FULL-BACK James Maxwell is thrilled to have penned a new, long-term deal with Rangers, and believes there is a ‘growing pathway’ to the first-team.

The 18 year-old left-back joined 18 year-old right-back Nathan Patterson in committing to the Light Blues until the summer of 2022, and after impressing with the Academy sides, is now desperate to make the jump to Steven Gerrard’s first-team.

“I’m obviously delighted to sign it,” he explained. “It has been a lot of hard work leading up to this point but I am really delighted to be staying here for even longer.

“I’ve been doing really well with the Development Squad, but the main goal is to get to the first-team so this new contract gives me the security to achieve those goals.

“I think there is definitely a growing pathway. With us signing new deals, it looks like we could have a chance, but we just need to be ready when there is an opportunity to get in front of the fans at Ibrox.”

Maxwell has trained this season on many occasions with Gerrard’s first-team – and that, coupled with his Academy games programme this season, has highlighted to him the areas he would like to improve in.

“When you are round with the first-team, you need to impress them all the time,” he continued. “The fact I’ve got this new contract shows I’m doing something well and when I get in front of those guys I just need to do my best, so it is working quite well.

“At the start, you are a bit nervous as it is a big chance. Once you get used to the players around you, you settle-in and get to show what you can do.

“But it has been really good and I really enjoy training with them.

“The feedback I have had [from the first-team staff] has been really positive – it’s been more just on the physical side I’ve needed to improve, but I still have time to do that as I am young.

“With all the football stuff, there has been really good feedback and we just need to improve all the time.

“I think everything needs to be improved – definitely defensively as I have converted from being a winger to a full-back recently, so I have a lot to learn on that as I am a couple of years behind I think.”

Maxwell and his teammates have, this season, been able to test themselves against Europe’s best at their age group in the UEFA Youth League, while they have also progressed superbly in the Tunnocks’ Caramel Wafer Cup, becoming the first ‘Colts’ side to reach the semi-final having knocked-out four men’s sides.

“That has been a lot different from playing Academy football,” he added. “The first-teams we play are obviously a lot more physical and they try to play a bit more direct.

“For me as a defender, it is a really good experience playing against bigger guys who might not be as good technically as Academy players but they are really physical and it is a different challenge which will help when we go and play for the first-team hopefully.

“I think that [UEFA Youth League] is the best tournament I’ve been involved in. Every game means something and every game is a knockout game basically – I’ve really enjoyed playing in it.

“There’s high-pressure and the fans have been turning out for it as well so I have really, really enjoyed that tournament

“Those have been the most enjoyable games this year and they are the best games I’ve played in this year and it has given us the chance to get in front of the fans before you go to Ibrox.”

Maxwell, through his Rangers form, has also won a place in the Scotland under-19 squad, and said on that: “I’m delighted with it, but it’s not something I was personally thinking about a lot – it was just focusing on Rangers and if I do well here, hopefully that will translate into international call-ups but I was delighted with it.”

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