Hutton: I was wrong about Kelly - he's set for big Rangers role after what I've just seen in person
Rangers youngster Stephen Kelly is destined for a first-team role in the near future.
So says ex-Ibrox right-back Alan Hutton, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the 21-year-old’s cameo against Real Madrid last Sunday (25th July).
The midfielder played the last five minutes of the 2-1 victory in what was his fourth appearance in pre-season for Steve Gerrard’s side.
After making his first and only competitive Rangers appearance to date in 2018-19, Kelly has spent the last two seasons out on loan.
He spent 2019-20 on loan with Ayr United in the Scottish Championship before featuring 21 times for Ross County in the Premiership last term.
Hutton has watched Kelly in person throughout pre-season and is impressed with what he’s seen.
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“He’s definitely a first-team player, for me,” he told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge.
“Whether he makes the breakthrough into that Rangers team this season, we’ll have to wait and see. But he’s got all the attributes and ticks all the boxes.
“I was probably a bit harsh on him in the past because I’d not seen a lot of him.
“What I was hearing was that he was very tidy, very technically superb, keeps the ball moving.
“But sometimes that doesn’t really work in a team like Rangers where you’ve got to break down defences.
“But when I watched him in pre-season, his first thought was to move the ball forward. From a midfielder’s point of view, that’s what strikers want.
He’s probably learning off Gerrard daily. That’s what impressed me the most, the forward-thinking.
“It’s going to be difficult this year because he is coming up against a lot of established international players. But he has what it takes to break in.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how he develops as a player in that team. If he’s kept there, obviously that will be good.
“But if he goes out on loan, he will definitely be one I’ll be keeping my eye on.