The name on fans’ lips this summer is 21-year old Auchenhowie graduate Stephen Kelly. The classy midfielder is impressing onlookers with his maturity, vision, and reading of the game, reminding many of a young Barry Ferguson who also broke through around the same age.
But the question is, does Kelly have a chance of breaching the first team?
The harsh truth is the lad will find it difficult at best and nearly-impossible at worst.
Let’s be clear – Stevie rates him, a lot. He’s impressing the manager who’s seeing a style similar to his own in his more twilight years of his career.
But this doesn’t mean Kelly is going to nail the senior squad.
The problem he has is the quality ahead of him.
Ryan Jack, Steven Davis, Nnamdi Ofoborh, John Lundstram, Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara, to name only six are all ahead of him.
Now, in Kelly’s favour, he’s probably equal chances alongside our new signing from Bournemouth, Jack’s fitness is a massive area of contention, Davis isn’t getting any younger and Glen Kamara may be sold.
But Davis shows no signs of slowing down, Lundstram looks a real asset and Aribo has been wonderful the past year so while Kelly’s chances are not nil, he will find it a struggle and will either need to be patient or go out on loan again.
We haven’t even mentioned Scotty Arfield in here, which shows the obstacles ahead of Kelly.
Now, there’s obviously the precedent of Nathan Patterson, but he was lucky – Tavernier’s injury put Rangers in a spot, and Patterson got a complete get out of jail free card. Only way he’d have broken through really and have been forgiven for the Covid violation.
That fortune won’t shine on Kelly and he has a LOT ahead of him.
As for how good he is? He’s done well to handle the shirt in pre-season, which is the first test. Others have struggled even at that level so we give him credit.
Time will tell if Stevie thinks he’s ready for the serious stuff onwards.