If there’s one player at Ibrox, not called Jack Butland, to currently get Rangers fans’ tongues wagging furiously it’s rising star Ross McCausland.
The Northern Ireland U21 international made his first start for Rangers at Livi and had an eventful match, following a bright cameo v Sparta midweek.
We’re not falling into the same trap most fans are with this lad, which is to big him up, rate him high, and then inevitably watch him crash and burn as the poor sod fails to live up to the pressure and hype surrounding him.
Mind you, at 20-years-old the playmaker/winger isn’t exactly a child and has reached an age where there may be a spot of understandable expectancy on his shoulders.
Rangers haven’t had an Auchenhowie graduate of any notable quality since Nathan Patterson, and given how shoddily he was treated before being sold, our track record down the years with youth definitely isn’t the best.
Of course, technically McCausland isn’t one of our own kids, he’s a Linfield graduate signed for £60,000 four years ago, but that was age 16 so he is effectively a Ger by trade now. But that’s quite the price to pay for a 16-year-old boy so clearly Rangers had high hopes for his potential.
And he’s showing this season some real signs of what drove the investment.
But we’re still not getting too excited.
Too often we’ve watched Auchenhowie products fail to make the grade – we saw this nonsense with Kai Kennedy who impressed many on a cameo or two then just faded into obscurity. We don’t know that McCausland can be any different, as good as he has been.
But just what do we make of his displays?
Very good, admittedly. Maturity, pace, vision, dribbling trickery, and the ability to score (albeit ruled out) while having a very good eye for a pass and not being wasteful.
The lad didn’t look like playing for the seniors fazed him at all.
Manager Philippe Clement said that giving the young players a chance is a big part of his remit, that he likes to give the youth the opportunity – this was a lie our last three managers all told with enthusiasm, that they were all about the youth, but ultimately none of Steven Gerrard, Giovanni van Bronckhorst or Mick Beale gave any real space to youth unless forced upon them.
But Clement is different. He was impressed by Ross’ display v the Czechs and gave him the stage that weekend to take it on.
And the lad took his chance.
His one blight? Diving. It was absolutely not a penalty, he went down before there was any contact and it was quite honestly shameful. Big enough boy to know he did wrong, he’s not a child any more. The press reaction where no one could believe VAR didn’t check it was understandable, we were convinced they’d rule out the pen and book him, but to Rangers’ and Ross’ fortune they didn’t.
In truth Tav’s horrible penalty miss was probably justice, not that we’d have complained had it gone in.
But that aside, McCausland took his chance, and now time will tell if he retains his place in two weeks.
We tell you this – we’d have him over Cantwell right now, no doubt about it.