DAVID WEIR has been delighted with the strides made by the young players in the Rangers squad as they adapt to life as first-team footballers.
At just 21, Barrie McKay has featured in every game for the Light Blues this season and his performances have shown that he has the talented and drive to be an Ibrox hero for many years to come if he continues to progress.
Rising star Gedion Zelalem has also recently extended his loan spell until the end of the season, and in Saturday’s official matchday programme he said he would happily advise any of his Arsenal team-mates to consider similar moves to the Gers so they can fight for silverware at another club which demands success.
This is all music to Weir’s ears but he was not surprised to read Zelalem’s positive comments given the valuable experience he is currently gaining in Scotland at the age of 18.
He said: “I think Rangers has got great things to give to these loan players in respect of the crowds, the expectations and the environment that hopefully we are creating here that replicates what they want to do with their careers at their parent clubs.
“We’ve got to utilise that and, if they are not quite ready for the English Premiership at this minute, then possibly this is a good step towards getting them there.
“Both the club and the parent club can benefit from getting them out and playing football. It seems to be a win-win situation so it’s really important we get the right players in here, that they enjoy it, they develop and we create relationships whereby we can continue to do that.
“Lads come here who maybe haven’t experienced what it is like to be here with the big crowds and the big expectations and all the things that go with that. It’s not an easy thing to do.
“It’s important they adjust to that, adapt to it, they make the most if it and enjoy it.
“On the whole they have done. There will always be little bits whereby it’s difficult and they’ve got to find their way through that.
Our jobs as coaches and managers is to help them because Rangers is a difficult place to play, we all know that, but it’s also a fantastic place to play.”
McKay is, of course, different to Zelalem in that he joined Rangers from Kilmarnock in 2011 and progressed from the Murray Park youth teams into the senior squad, making his debut against St Johnstone on 13 May 2012.
He then featured heavily in the 2012/13 campaign in the Third Division but loan moves to Morton and Raith followed as the youngster seemed to drift into the wilderness.
Mark Warburton’s arrival has seen McKay kickstart his career in a remarkable fashion, and having featured in every game for Rangers this season Weir has praised the winger’s contribution.
He said: “Every game he has played in he’s influenced it, he’s affected it, he’s created chances, he’s scoring goals, he’s causing problems, he’s getting opposition players booked, he’s very lively and he looks like he’s enjoying his football as well.
“He’s still got loads to go in regards to development. He’s still a young man, only 21, and he’s not played that many games for Rangers.
“So there’s still a lot of improvement from him but we’re really happy with him and delighted to have him here.”