STEVIE SMITH has paid tribute to the club’s young players for the way they have reacted to the arrival of seven new recruits so far at Rangers this summer.

The full-back will start a contract with the Light Blues on September 1 subject to registration along with Richard Foster and Cammy Bell.

Nicky Law, Nicky Clark, Jon Daly and Arnold Peralta – who should be in Glasgow in the next 24 hours – fall into the same category.

With the exception of Peralta, the others have all played in both of the pre-season games so far against Brora and Elgin.

Although Bell has been relatively quiet, the other five have all looked sharp and each is pushing to be a first-team regular in the months to come.

The fact Ally McCoist has brought so many additional players into his pool has led many to speculate that the emerging talents at Ibrox might not get as much game time this term.

But after 19-year-old Lewis Macleod’s double beat Brora, it was his 18-year-old flatmate Fraser Aird who separate the sides at Borough Briggs last night.

Robbie Crawford has also been a standout in a number of fitness tests and his progress hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Gers’ youth products are showing they won’t give up their places without a fight and Smith has praised them for that.

The defender said: “Fraser took his goal well and the manager has been telling him to be positive and to get at people.

“As soon as he gets the ball, he wants him to turn and face people because he’s got the attributes to do what he did at Elgin.

“He’s young so the more he plays and the more consistency he gets in his game, I think you’ll see that on a more regular basis from him.

“I’ve said before that the young guys we’ve got can’t continue to play. Pre-season is a good platform for them to show the manager they’re still there.

“Ever since I came back, the youngsters have been the fittest players at the club and with the performances they’re putting in, that’s only going to push everyone on.

“If they want to be holding down regular places in the team, it’s there for them all to go and do that.”

The success at Borough Briggs rounded off a really worthwhile five-day trip north for Rangers, who now look ahead to tour games in England, Germany and Holland.

While they were in Sutherland and Moray, the squad went through a series of rigorous training sessions and team spirits are undoubtedly rising.

Smith added: “It has been great actually. The facilities have been decent and we’ve got a lot of hard work done.

“We had two hard matches as well and most people have played 45 minutes in both of them so there are a lot of positives to take from the trip.”

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