JOSH McPAKE tonight claimed the Rangers ‘Academy Player of the Year’ award as he continues to impress across two of the club’s younger sides.

Kicking the season off with the under-18s, McPake soon progressed to the Reserves and has even featured in first-team training with Steven Gerrard such has been his level of performance.

Speaking after collecting his award, a delighted McPake beamed: “It means a lot that all the hard work through the season has come to this. I have come on leaps and bounds this season – I started quite slowly with the under-18s but worked my way up into the Reserves and proved myself there to be a starter.

“Hopefully I can keep carrying on and my next step will be the first team.”

Still a member of the under-18 and Reserve sides, McPake could claim a unique quadruple of both leagues at those ages as well as the Scottish FA Youth Cup and City of Glasgow Cup in what remains of this season.

He continued: “There are a lot of games between now and the end of the season, but the boys just need to keep going, keep trying and I reckon we can win it all.

“Last year, I won the Glasgow Cup against Celtic at Firhill, and that was a great moment, so I would like to do it again this year, hopefully in the Youth Cup final and the Glasgow Cup final.”

The opportunity to train with the first-team is something McPake is desperate to make a regular occurrence, and he added: “It has been amazing, and every time I go round there I just need to prove myself and watch what the players there are doing like Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe and try to pick it up and take it round to the Academy.”

So what’s next for McPake? Well, he concluded: “I need to keep doing what I am doing – I am only 17 so starting for the Reserves and doing well for the Reserves is not bad, but the next step is the first-team.”

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