By James Black
Rangers youth coach Billy Kirwood believes playing in-front of crowds at Ibrox is “absolutely vital” to his players’ progression after seeing them beat Partick Thistle 5-2 on Monday night.
Goals from Andy Dallas, Serge Atakayi, Dapo Mebude and a double from Zak Rudden booked the young Gers’ place in the next round of the Scottish FA Youth Cup in front of a healthy crowd at Ibrox.
Last season, Rangers Under-20’s played most of their game at Stirling’s Forthbank Stadium but have this term used Ibrox much more and Kirkwood thinks it can only help the players improve.
“It’s absolutely vital because they’re hoping they’ll run out one time and there will be 50,000,” Kirkwood said, as quoted by the club’s official website.
“It’s great that we get the opportunity to play at Ibrox and when they get a wee bit of a crowd but they’ve got to test themselves and have that mental capacity to handle 50,000.”
Kirkwood was taking the side in the continued absence of Graeme Murty as the former Scotland international continues to take interim control of the first-team.
The win over Partick was only the young Gers’ second competitive game of the season after losing to Dumbarton in the Challenge Cup in August.
Academy head Craig Mulholland withdrew the Ibrox side’s Under-20’s from the SPFL Development League for a season in favour of a year-long programme of home and away friendlies against elite youth sides from across the UK and Europe.
Rangers reached the Youth Cup final last season but lost out to Old Firm rivals Celtic at Hampden.
In other Rangers news, this 46-year-old manager who is wanted by the Gers is set to hold talks.