GRAEME Murty has hit back at critics of Rangers’ decision to pull out of the SPFL Development League and insisted the radical move will be responsible for developing more players who are capable of playing in the first team at Ibrox.

The Glasgow club this summer announced their under-20 team would play friendlies against some of the biggest clubs across Europe this season instead of taking on their local rivals.

They received permission from the Scottish Professional Football League to remove their side from the domestic set-up in an attempt to improve the standard of their 17 to 21-year-olds.

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Read more: Rangers caretaker Graeme Murty confident he will be rewarded - if he can make his Ibrox players better

That development has not been well received by everyone in Scottish football, but Murty, who has taken charge of the first team for the second time in a year following the sacking of Pedro Caixinha last month, is adamant it is already paying dividends.

“We are trying to change what we’ve always done,” he told the Training Ground Guru website. “We’ve opted out of the games programme to test this method and find out whether it works. We’ve played Man City, Liverpool, Feyenoord, AZ Alkmaar.

“The best thing has been the discussion among the players afterwards. Often they say ‘we’ve not seen this style before’ or ‘we’ve not encountered this problem’. It’s challenging them and they are really enjoying it.

“In terms of progression to the first team, we’ve had a mini success with Ross McCrorie, who’s established himself, but it’s our job now to make sure this progression is consistent, that we are bringing through youngsters of the quality and standard and mindset to be Rangers players.”

Murty, who has been tipped to land the manager’s job on a permanent basis after leading the first team to triumphs over Hearts away and Partick Thistle at home, is the lead development squad coach at Rangers and he believes the Ibrox club is benefitting from placing a greater emphasis on youth development than it has in the past.

Read more: Rangers caretaker Graeme Murty confident he will be rewarded - if he can make his Ibrox players better

He also paid tribute to Caixinha, who was sacked after spending little over seven months in charge last month following a disappointing start to the 2017/18 campaign, for the encouragement he gave to the promising players coming through the youth ranks at Auchenhowie.

McCrorie, the 19-year-old centre half, this week admitted that he would be forever indebted to the Portuguese coach for giving him his chance in the first team this season.

“We’ve got Ross McCrorie, Jamie Barjonas and Ryan Hardie in the squad, which is fantastic to see, and Robbie McCrorie and Liam Kelly coming up behind them as well,” he said.

“If I’m looking at the under-20s, I’d say 95 per cent of them have trained with the first team squad at some stage this season, which is great. They get to see the best players doing what they do and what it takes to stay there.

“Jamie’s development has come on apace, because he’s training with Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans, Niko Kranjcar and Kenny Miller. He’s seeing what it takes to play in the first team first hand.

“These players are aspiring to be first-team players, so they need to see it. Pedro was very open. If the under-20s had a session, we would often schedule it so we were able to go and watch the first team train, to see what it’s like to be a Rangers player, to look and listen.

Read more: Rangers caretaker Graeme Murty confident he will be rewarded - if he can make his Ibrox players better

“They’d always come back and talk about the noise, the intensity, the demands. That led to their own sessions improving in those regards.”

The Rangers training ground in Milngavie has been criticised since it was opened back in 2001 at a cost of £14 million for the limited number of first team players which it has produced.

But Murty said: “People who don’t see it on a daily basis can say what they like. We think you can see a development in our young players across the board. The sessions are bright, clear and we are hitting the objectives which we have.”