11 academy stars Rangers let go, including two Celtic players

John Fleck (L) of Rangers tackles Beram Kayal of Celtic during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium salutes his supporters  on April 24,...

The likes of Lewis Morgan, Greg Taylor and John Fleck all spent time with Scottish Premiership champions Rangers in their younger days.

5th May 2019, Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland; Ladbrokes Premiership football, Rangers versus Hibernian; General view of Ibrox Stadium

Rangers might have one of the most prosperous academies anywhere in Britain but not every fresh-faced starlet makes the grade at Ibrox.

The Gers pushed these players out of the door, or lost them against their will (ahem, Billy Gimour), but would any get in Steven Gerrard's starting XI now?


Liam Kelly

Kelly kept 14 clean sheets in the Scottish Premiership last season during a fine campaign between the sticks at Livingston. Ironically enough, that is one more than Allan McGregor managed at Rangers.

Goal keeper Liam Kelly of Scottish club Rangers FC tips a second half scoring attempt over the goal post against Brazilian club Corinthians during their Florida Cup soccer game at Orlando...

It was McGregor’s arrival which finally forced the young shot-stopper to seek a move away from Ibrox in 2018 but, after that brilliant spell at Livi, he’s gone backwards somewhat following a slow start to life at QPR.

Craig Halkett

In January 2016, Rangers told a 21-year-old Halkett that his time at Ibrox was over. Three months later, he scored the winning goal against the side that let him go.

If that was immediate revenge, worse was to come. Rangers fans have been forced to watch with their hands over their eyes as Halkett blossomed into a star in the Premiership and, after swapping Livingston for Hearts over the summer, he is well placed to continue his progression.

David Bates

Referee Jonathan Bilinski gets between David Bates of Scottish club Rangers FC (R) and Lucca of Brazilian club Corinthians during their Florida Cup soccer game at Orlando City Stadium in...

Just as Rangers were finally seeing the best of Bates, his contract expired and he was on his way across the continent to sign for Hamburg. One of the most talented young Scottish defenders around, the future is bright for Bates but like Kelly, he’s currently struggling for game time in England’s second tier.

A loan move to Sheffield Wednesday just hasn’t gone to plan so far.

Greg Taylor

If the rapid rise of Halkett wasn’t painful enough, consider this; five years after Rangers released Taylor for being ‘too small and slight’, he signed for Old Firm rivals Celtic in a £2.2 million deal (Mail).

A replacement for Kieran Tierney at Parkhead, the combative and tough-tackling Taylor shone at Kilmarnock and he’s now battling Andy Robertson and Arsenal’s summer signing for a place in the Scotland national team.

Jordan Thompson

Not many players get to turn out for the most successful clubs in England and Scotland while they are still in their teens but that achievement is tainted somewhat by the fact that Thompson failed to make the grade at both Manchester United and Rangers.

He is fulfilling his potential at Blackpool however, adding plenty of energy in the middle or on the right, with four caps for the Northern Ireland under his belt now too.

Kenny McLean

McLean will forever be a cult hero in the eyes of Norwich City fans for his thumping header in that famous win against Manchester City at a rocking Carrow Road in September.

The 27-year-old is a classy operator in the centre of the park, helping The Canaries win the Championship in his first season in Anglia following a 2018 move from Aberdeen.

Rejecting a contract at Rangers all the way back in 2008, McLean’s rise shows that the grass is sometimes greener.

John Fleck

John Fleck (L) of Rangers tackles Beram Kayal of Celtic during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium salutes his supporters  on April 24,...

Unlike Halkett, Taylor and McLean, Fleck had established himself as a key first-team player after rising through the ranks at Rangers, making over 50 appearances before their 2012 demotion.

Seven years on, he is playing Premier League football with Sheffield United, his laser guided passes giving the Blades plenty of cutting edge over three years in the Steel City. Fleck made his long-awaited Scotland debut on Thursday, albeit during a 4-0 thumping in Moscow.

Billy Gilmour

The second coming of Islam Feruz he most certainly isn’t. Fans, pundits and ex-players alike were united in decreeing Gilmour’s shock move to Chelsea, at the age of just 15, as a major misstep right at the start of a promising career.

But the teenager’s dazzling talents have ensured that he won’t go the way of Feruz at Stamford Bridge. Possibly the most promising Scottish talent of his generation, Gilmour was even handed a Premier League debut by Frank Lampard during August’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United.

Lewis Morgan

A la Taylor, Morgan is wearing green and white these days, although he’s been far from a regular starter at Old Firm rivals Celtic with the likes of James Forrest, Scott Sinclair and Mohamed Elyounoussi for competition.

According to the Herald, Rangers tried to re-sign a winger they let go in 2013 before he joined their Glasgow neighbours from St Mirren, having established himself as arguably the most influential attacking force outside the top flight.

Barrie McKay

The mere mention of McKay’s name will have Rangers fans suffering unwelcome flashbacks of the mad Pedro Caixinha era at Ibrox. The skilful winger was arguably the best of a bad bunch two years ago but the controversy-spawning coach clearly wasn’t convinced, forcing McKay out of Rangers on the cheap.

Barrie McKay of Rangers runs with the ball during the Scottish Cup Quarter final match between Rangers and Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium on March 4, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Then again, maybe Caixinha had a point. After falling out of favour at Nottingham Forest despite a bright start, he’s now been demoted to Swansea’s bomb-squad.

Ross McCormack

Perhaps the most high-profile player on this list, Rangers never saw the best of McCormack but goals came naturally to the stocky striker south of the border. The now 33-year-old scored more than 20 league goals for three Championship clubs; Fulham, Leeds United and Cardiff City.

But even three years after an ill-fated £12 million move to Aston Villa, McCormack finds himself without a club in the autumn years of his career.

Rangers academy XI

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