Derek Johnstone: Why youngsters struggled at Rangers under Ally McCoist

Johnstone believes that Ally McCoist made a conscious decision to not field youngsters when he was Rangers manager.

McCoist led Rangers to successive promotions from the fourth tier of Scottish football to the second, and former Gers forward Johnstone has told the Evening Times that he was successful due to not playing academy prospects.

The 132-goal forward said: “He decided then that he couldn't go with kids. He realised that he needed to put his faith in experienced players to get Rangers through the lower divisions.He thought he needed guys who had been there, seen it and got the T-shirt in Scottish football to get back up the leagues.

“That is why very few youngsters got into the side.”

In that first season in League Two, McCoist stuck with a side that was undeniably old, but who had the experience and talent to win the division with ease. He continued such a system the following campaign in League One, and managed to get the club promoted a second time.

Some players did break through, with Lewis Macleod probably the biggest name, but McCoist stuck to his guns to achieve promotion.

It was a system that many criticised, but one that worked, and he did amazingly well to create a competitive squad in that first season after liquidation despite a transfer embargo and many players leaving the club by cancelling their contracts.

Academy prospects have featured in the first-team occasionally during Rangers' rise up the divisions, but not in the number that many expected when the club were reduced to their bare bones.

Under Stuart McCall, Ryan Hardie is the latest player to make the step up from academy to first-team, and he netted twice on his full debut, and many are keen to see him keep his place in the first-team to prove that the Rangers academy is still producing the prospects who can cut it at first-team level.

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