ZAK Rudden says he has seen his football improve tenfold in the past week after joining the first-team in Spain.

The 18-year-old found out in mid-May that he would be travelling with Steven Gerrard’s squad in his first pre-season at the club.

To Rudden that was music to his ears and he has taken the opportunity to work with the Liverpool legend and his staff with open arms, confident he will return to Scotland a better player.

Speaking to RangersTV in Spain he said: “It’s been going good. I feel fitter than I did last year when I had a really good start but got injured and never had the best pre-season. I feel fit and I feel stronger than I did last season.

“I found out on the 15th of May when I received an email saying that I had to be around, so I wasn’t too sure.

“I had a rough idea about coming away, and then I got a phone call a week after that saying that I was coming and I was delighted.

“I was looking forward to it as you always have to look forward to these things. To be with the first team and continue my development and progress as a footballer is always good.

“I feel like I’ve learned loads. I’ve taken a while to get used to the intensity and the movement of where they want me to be at certain times.

“I feel like I am miles ahead in these seven days than I have been maybe in the last six months.

“I feel like I am getting stronger and I’m doing more gym work by myself and some things in my room like press-ups and planks. I feel so much stronger and fitter and I think that my game will be better because of that.

“We’re resting too and I feel like I am already used to the resting because when you go away with Scotland you have to be ready to rest all the time.

“I played for twenty-five minutes in a small game the other day and I felt that it was good. I felt fit by the end of it and that I could have maybe kept going and played another twenty-five minutes, but I felt fit and strong.”

Rudden played a prominent role in the first season of the games programme which saw the Gers academy take on top European opposition.

This season he wants to make further steps towards the first-team set up at Ibrox. He will also play in the domestic reserve league that Rangers will enter into.

He continued: “I want to be around the first team and I’d like to make my debut this year as that is my big aim.

“I know that I have to just wait and see if the gaffer likes me. He’s spoken to me a couple of times about little things here and there.

“It helped a lot. For me, I had to be quicker, smarter and stronger. The defenders that I came up against were much cleverer than what you would maybe get in the Under 20s league.

“I felt that we maybe needed a little bit more of Scottish football. My aim is always to play in the first team, but if I need to and if I am not going to be a first team player then playing under 20s or a loan would do for me.”

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