If there were a few notes of positivity following Pedro Caixinha’s appointment last season, it was his willingness to use Rangers’ youth products without fear.
Thanks to the Portuguese manager, the likes of Jamie Barjonas, Aidan Wilson and Myles Beerman all got a chance to impress at the highest level, and while results were not always favourable, these young players rarely let their team down and indeed in most cases became even more highly regarded.
But something puzzling happened this summer. It was revealed that left back Myles Beerman had been effectively sent back to the Academy, despite mostly doing very well indeed for the seniors, and Jordan Thompson, a midfielder by trade, was now taking Lee Wallace’s deputy slot.
Even more puzzling is Jamie Barjonas. He really did capture the hearts of fans last season with his near-impeccable performances, especially during that 20-minute cameo at Firhill, and looked every inch capable of handling the heat of top-flight SPL football.
But he too seems to have been relegated back to the youth setup for reasons unknown.
And indeed none of the youth players, Beerman (Progres first leg), McRorie (second leg) and Hardie (Hearts) aside (can Hardie even still be classed as one?) have even made the bench in any of the six competitive outings Rangers have made this season.
With such a seemingly promising pool of young players at Rangers’ disposal, and the disappointing displays the seniors have made, it does seem a little surprising that Pedro has not cherry-picked the very best ones (the likes of Barjonas and Wilson) for more of a shout at the first team.
As we remember the lies Mark Warburton used to make about ‘pawfways’ and ensuring everyone felt close to the first team (while comically making sure most youth got nowhere near it), we can at least defend Pedro on the basis that he has never made promises all the time about playing youth.
And that really is just as well because just like with every previous manager, they are barely getting a chance this season despite seeming to break through last.
If we look at the Colts side that lost to Dumbarton in the Irn Bru Cup;
McAdams, Houston, Beerman, Holt, Wilson, McCrorie, Atakayi (Shiels, 66), Barjonas, Hardie, Rudden, Dallas (Palmer, 60).
And then we look at the national team calling up seven of them for the Serbian trip:
Aidan McAdams, Kieran Wright, Jordan Houston, Lewis Mayo, Aidan Wilson, Jamie Barjonas, Zak Rudden.
There is clearly a depth of quality here – particularly with Beerman (obviously not included in the second list), Houston, Wilson, Barjonas, and Rudden especially standing out, yet following the apparent signs that they were set to make a break through last season, it has not been seen through.
Maybe Pedro wants these guys to keep getting game time, but eventually he has to start giving them their rewards with call ups to the seniors. It seems a little unfair to give so many of them significant cameos last season then just take it away from them this.
I would say they deserve a shout. It is not like the team is playing too well for anyone else to be considered, is it?