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Where are they now: Rangers’ last five young players of the year

We look at the club’s last five Young Player of the Year award winners.

Ruari Macneil

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Photo: Getty Images

The last five seasons have been the toughest half decade that Rangers have ever faced in their long and illustrious history.

Scotland’s most successful football have club have endured a number of seasons in the lower leagues of Scottish professional football, attempting to right the wrongs of their punishment since going into administration, fighting their way back from Scottish League Two to the Premiership.

Over the course of the half-decade, many players have come and go, and the club has also seen a number of different managers take the reigns.

With the current season drawing to a near close, we are going to explore the past five winners of the clubs’ Young Player of the Year award, and see where they are in their careers.

2016/2017- Emerson Hyndman

USA international central-midfielder Emerson Hyndman picked up the Rangers’ Young Player of the Year award last season whilst on loan from Bournemouth.

The 22-year-old only joined up with the Light Blues for the second half of the season, but his 17 appearances were enough to earn him the award after an impressive showing in what was a torrid first season for the club back in Scotland’s top flight.

The American is still owned by Bournemouth but has only made three appearances so far this season under Eddie Howe, none of which have come in the Premier League.

Still awaiting his league debut for the Cherries, the upcoming campaign will be a make or break year for the USA star.

2015/2016 – Barrie McKay

Barrie McKay picked up the Young Player of the Year award in 2016 after a stunning showing in the Scottish Championship which saw the youngster play nearly every game in the league campaign, finishing the season with a whopping 48 appearances.

McKay has since left Rangers and now plies his trade with Nottingham Forest, where he has similarly become a first team regular for the Championship outfit.

Highly rated at Ibrox, McKay made 140 appearances for the Light Blues before moving on and even earned a Scotland cap during his final season at the club.

An academy graduate, his Rangers career saw him help the club to three promotions, from the bottom of the professional football system back to the top flight.

2014/2015 – Andy Murdoch

Midfielder Andy Murdoch made 14 league appearances for Rangers in 14/15 which saw him end the season on a high by picking up the Young Player of the Year award.

The following season saw the youngster loaned out to Queen of the South, only for the player to be sold two summers ago to Scottish Championship outfit Greenock Morton.

Since joining Morton, Murdoch has become a first team regular for the promotion hopefuls, making over a half-century of appearances for the club in his first couple of seasons.

Once a very highly rated young Rangers star, Murdoch will be disappointed his Ibrox career never fruition having spent five years in the youth academy prior to his debut.

2013/2014 – Fraser Aird

Canadian-Scot Fraser Aird picked up the Young Player of the Year award with his boyhood club back in 2014, after making 37 appearances for Rangers.

A regular down the right-flank, whether that be as a winger or a right-back, Aird was a fan favourite at Ibrox, moving on to play for Falkirk in 2016.

Aird is now a full Canadian international with eight caps to his name, and currently plays for Dunfermline in the Scottish Championship, where is a regular starter for the club.

Interestingly, Aird’s only goal for Canada so far has come against Scotland, netting the opener in a 1-1 draw at Easter Road in 2017.

2012/2013 – Lewis Macleod

Lewis Macleod spent eight years in the Rangers academy before earning his debut back in 12/13, going on to become the club’s Young Player of the Year in his first season after making 29 appearances as an 18-year-old.

Having spent three seasons as a regular in the first team amassing 74 appearances in the blue shirt, Macleod has since moved on to Brentford where he has spent the last four seasons.

Game time has been a bit more difficult to come by for the youngster in the Championship and Macleod has only played 20 games for his new club.

Nonetheless, compared to some of the other former winners of the club’s Young Player of the Year award, he is plying his trade at a high level and can be pleased at that.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Rangers must make a statement and refuse to sell Alfredo Morelos

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Photo: Getty Images.

Steven Gerrard’s appointment at Ibrox was a clear statement of intent from Rangers to challenge Celtic’s domestic domination, but now it’s time for the club to follow it up with another one by refusing to give in to pressure to sell young striker Alfredo Morelos.

Turkish outlet Yeni Akit have reported that Champions League side Besiktas are considering a move for the 21-year-old, who ended the season as Rangers’ top scorer with 18 goals.

What is key to the reports is that they say that the Turkish side are not prepared to try to buy him up-front, as sides from China did earlier on this year, but they want to sign the Colombian on loan with a view to a permanent move if he lives up to expectations.

For Rangers, and for Gerrard, it causes a dilemma. In February, Morelos showed that he was prepared to kick up a fuss, demanding a new pay rise amid interest from China, according to the Daily Mail, and any repeat risks destabilising Gerrard’s reign before it has even begun.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The former Liverpool captain lived through similar scenarios with Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez as a player and will find that his new club are in a strong negotiating position given that Morelos got his wish, penning a new three year contract in March.

Morelos is not the ideal striker for Gerrard. There is no denying that Gerrard may wish to look to an experienced partner to help develop his game and fulfill his undoubted potential, cutting out the glaring misses and inconsistencies which see him hit purple patches of form, 14 of his goals coming in two different spells of five and seven games respectively.

That said, Gerrard will see exploiting that potential as one of his biggest challenges and one that he is unlikely to be keen to surrender so early on in his time at the club.

Losing a key man in a deal that has no obvious benefit for the Gers would kill off any optimism surrounding the club following his appointment, whilst the club have the chance to show that they are prepared to gamble on success.

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Rangers target Martin Skrtel certainly has a patchy relationship with Brendan Rodgers

Steven Gerrard wants to bring the Slovakian to Ibrox, where he would face off with former boss in Glasgow.

Mathew Coull

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It looks as though new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is already looking at some old pals of his to help improve the playing staff at Ibrox. One name who has been mentioned as potential arrival on more than one occasion this week is centre-back Martin Skrtel.

The Slovakian is said to be a target for Rangers, with the Scottish sun suggesting the £4 million target joins Jermain Defoe and Lucas Leiva in an ambitious transfer wishlist from the Liverpool legend.

Obviously, Rangers fans would love to see all three of these Premier League heroes at Ibrox but even just the arrival of Skrtel would be a huge boost. The bullish defender would go a long way toward improving the defence at Rangers – which has been weak most of the current campaign.

(during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers at Anfield on May 2, 2015 in Liverpool, England.

Of course, if Skrtel were to arrive, he would be going up against his former boss in Glasgow. In fact, Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers and Skrtel have something of a patchy relationship.

In 2013 the Slovakian was quite suddenly dropped by Liverpool, barely getting a kick in the second half of the season. It looked like he was on his way out and he publicly took aim at Rodgers. As quoted by The Telegraph he stated:

“He gave me some explanation (why he was dropped), but it’s hard to tell if it was the true reason he gave me. I don’t think it was and think there is something else behind it…

It all happened after our match with Manchester United in the middle of January,” he said. “We lost 2-1 but I think that particularly in the second half we played very well. Moreover, a lot of sources gave me a good rating. But he [Rodgers] told me we had lost the organisation of play in the defensive line and that this would be the reason why I would not play in the following matches.

“I don’t know which fixtures he spoke about because we had kept a clean sheet twice in a row and won both matches.”

Celtic boss Rodgers is certainly not a popular man at Ibrox, so such views will no doubt be welcomed by the Rangers fans.

(Photo credit should read PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

Problem is, Skrtel changed his tune later on. He fought his way back into the reckoning under Rodgers at Liverpool. The following season was perhaps his best yet in a Liverpool shirt. When asked about Rodgers last year, when Slovakia took on Scotland, he had this to say:

“Brendan is a great manager. I played with him for two to three seasons at Liverpool. I am not surprised he is doing a great job there,” as quoted by The Daily Record (printed edition; 7th October – page 61).

Rangers fans will certainly not disagree that Rodgers has done a great job at their bitter Old Firm rivals.

But if Skrtel arrives the hope will be that the Slovakian puts all past sentiment for his former boss way in the back of his mind.

They want to see the ruthless and brutal Skrtel who first caught the eye in the Premier League at Anfield. If they can get that, then Rangers are on to a winner and Rodgers may wish he was not having so many Glasgow reunions.

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Steven Gerrard should try and lure star of his under-18 side to Rangers

Rangers’ new manager Steven Gerrard knows all about the talent at Liverpool and should bring one of their best to Ibrox this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Back in March, a feature from The Sun was entitled ‘Liverpool wonderkid Curtis Jones is the ‘next Steven Gerrard’ with big hair and even bigger potential.’ Such a comment is, of course, sensational, considering the impact Gerrard had at Anfield.

But in the 17-year-old Toxteth teen, Liverpool certainly have a potential successor to the throne.

The original Steven Gerrard has of course recently taken his first step into management, by taking over the vacancy at Rangers.

So should he try and lure Jones to Ibrox this summer?

Gerrard needs to bring in improvements around the squad if Rangers are to challenge Celtic at all next season. Jones could be exactly the sort of player that is needed to help Rangers get closer to their Glasgow rivals.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The link between the pair is not just in the teenager’s potential. In fact, Jones played under Gerrard for the under-18 side at Liverpool last season. Jones was one of the stars of the UEFA Youth League, scoring four goals as Liverpool’s youngsters made it to the quarter-finals.

His brand of goal-getting midfield dynamism would be a massive tool for Rangers next season and, with Gerrard at the helm, Liverpool would surely be happy to let their prized talent head to Scotland this summer.

With Gerrard’s arrival, Rangers find themselves in a unique position when it comes to the teenager. This summer plenty of teams will want the player on loan, after his incredible campaign with the Under-18s.

In all competitions, he has scored 15 goals in 29 games this season from the centre of the park and Rangers would be the perfect place to hone his craft.   

Gerrard would be making a wise move if he returned to his old club and brought his star player to Rangers in the summer. It could be the sleeper signing that helps Rangers get closer to their rivals next season.

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