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Rangers youth midfielder gives verdict on Academy programme

Rangers Under-20s midfielder Stephen Kelly was disappointed to end the season with a 3-1 defeat at Ibrox by Burnley on Sunday – but thinks the club’s ambitions Games Programme has been a success as the Gers youngsters have faced some of the best young sides in Europe.

The Gers youngsters withdrew from the SPFL’s Development League for a season to test themselves against the likes of Valencia, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Benfica.

Despite being on the end of some heavy defeats, the Light Blues earned some fantastic victories as they continued to work towards a first-team place and Kelly thinks it has been a good season.

“A few times we’ve struggled in games like that this season so I think it is something we need to improve on as a group,” Kelly said, as quoted by the club’s official website.

“The Games Programme has been good. We’ve had a lot of good goals, results and performances. We had a good performance today, it’s just the result is disappointing to end the season.”

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The ambitious project looks to have paid dividends after wins against the likes of Valencia and Bayern Munich have shown just how talented some of the youngsters in the Gers Academy are. Travelling across Europe for games will help the players adjusting to the demands of European football if the make the first-team and has let them test themselves against some fantastic opposition. Both Graeme Murty and Billy Kirkwood have done well with the Under-20s and Academy boss Craig Mulholland to do something to help young players make the jump from youth football to first-team games. The Games Programme has also helped the club get fans engaged with the Under-20s and Academy. The coverage of youth football in Scotland is scant at the best of times but playing some of the biggest names in Europe – and winning – has helped get more interest from fans in the players coming through at Ibrox.

In other Rangers news, both the Gers and Celtic are in the running to sign this £100,000-a-week Premier League midfielder who will be available in the summer.

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