By James Black

Rangers academy chief Craig Mulholland has made the bold claim that three of his young players will imminently feature in Pedro Caixinha’s first team this season.

Mulholland nominated rising stars Jordan Houston, Liam Burt and Ross Lyon as three who could soon win favour of the senior boss.

Since taking charge at Ibrox six months ago, Pedro Caixinha has shown great faith in the up-and-coming young talent with Jamie Barjonas, Myles Beerman and Aidan Wilson all being handed first-team debuts last season but so far this season it has been limited to Ryan Hardie and Ross McCrorie making the bench.

Mulholland is confident that there are plenty of others in the Academy who can make an impression on the first-team at a club where youth development has been neglected in recent years, telling Rangers’ website: “We are confident we will have players who will play this year, and the thing for us is when we look at our 16, 17 and 18 year-olds who, two years ago I said were too early to hit the first-team, they are now getting closer.

“The disappointing thing for us is the likes of Liam Burt, Jordan Houston and Ross Lyon having long-term injuries – and these are key players we thought might have pushed towards the first team.

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“If we get them back fit and going, we have a good batch we think will push pretty quickly in the pathway, perhaps in a way it hasn’t before.”

“A big part of Mark Allen’s role working with Pedro and myself is to put in place a real succession plan so we know what the fist team squad looks like in years to come,” Mulholland told Rangers official website. “We know where the gaps are to bring through young players and we know what recruitment has to happen.

“We want it to be done in a really planned and organised way.

“If we get that right, our player trading will become better and we’ll add value and hopefully get a return on our investment.

“The best way to make money for the club and make sure we have a successful first team is to develop our own talent, but there must be a pathway to do that.”

Rangers’ Under-20 side take on Premier League Brighton’s Academy squad at Ibrox tonight in the first home game of the ambitious project launched this summer and Mulholland believes it will better prepare the Ibrox youngsters for making the step-up to the first-team squad.

After the game with Brighton, they face a trip to face Manchester City at the City Football Academy then Leicester City are the visitors at Ibrox to round off abusy week.

Other clubs taking Rangers will face as part of the year-long project which sees Graeme Murty’s side test themselves in home and away fixtures include AZ Alkmaar, Benfica, Tottenham, Everton, AEK Athens and Feyenoord.

In other Rangers news, Rangers goal-machine Alfredo Morelos has revealed what happens every time he goes to the shops.

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