THE noise of studs clacking on concrete is mixed with a chorus of youthful voices clamouring to give the definitive version of a training session.

The sun beams on Murray Park and Jimmy Sinclair sits in a modern office reflecting on a bright shining lie. He is open, garrulous and apparently breezy but declares softly that he is "vexed". He has been struck by the curse of accepted truth.

The performance of Rhys McCabe, the 19-year-old midfielder, in Sunday's Old Firm match was testimony to the Murray Park's graduate's technical ability and equable temperament. But it was evidence, too, that the facility can and does produce football players. The regularly aired accusation that Murray Park is an elephant of a particularly pale complexion perturbs Sinclair, the academy director. "All I seem to hear about Murray Park is that there 'are nae kids coming through'. Yet the record speaks for itself. This academy has produced players that have benefited the club through sales or on the park or both."

The sniping has wounded Sinclair but he remains highly animated. The rewards come on such days as Sunday. While McCabe was anchoring a Rangers midfield, spraying passes with both his left and right foot, the academy director was on his busiest day of the week. "We were playing St Mirren and I could not watch the match. The first I heard of Rhys' performance was when I was listening to the radio when driving back here and I heard just how well he had played," said Sinclair.

So how does hearing of the success of one of his proteges affect him? "It makes me feel great," he says. "I have pride. I am not hiding any lights under any bushel. This department works really hard but there is relentless disappointment that seems to be attached to this building and what it has achieved. It is ill-deserved but has become an accepted truth. I wonder if it is a consequence of a belief that Murray Park was a solution to all ills. There is no gold dust. I can become vexed. What do people realistically expect if this is not hitting the mark?"

There is more a perplexity than an anger in his response to the accusations of under-achievement. The names of the alumni of Murray Park would seem to be solid evidence in the favour of Sinclair and his staff, most notably coaches Billy Kirkwood and Tommy Wilson.

There has been a stream of youth players who have found their way into a Rangers shirt after an education at the academy. Sinclair, who came to the club five years ago after 13 years with the Scottish Football Association, is keen to emphasise that the line stretches back to Allan McGregor, now 30 and a seasoned internationalist. He praises both his predecessors and his current staff. But he is perceptive on what has altered and what remains constant in youth development.

"There was a downturn in the number of good kids in Scottish football but that changed," he says. "There is no doubt we have bottomed out in that respect and we are on the incline. I believe, too, that facilities are becoming better and so has the coaching."

The constant at Murray Park is the demand for players who can win big games at a big club. It is a simple mission statement but its delivery can be complicated. "From the minute they come in at the age of nine or whatever, we want our kids to get the understanding of what is demanded when they put on a jersey. When they go to play other teams such as Motherwell, Hibs or whatever, they must get into their head that we beat other teams. That is what we do. Now, we won't always beat them. But that is the expectation.

"They must understand from a young age that they have to steel themselves for other kids coming here and trying harder, running faster because they are playing Rangers. It is very similar to the first team. Teams will come to Ibrox super-charged for the game and produce an exceptional performance. Our kids understand that. They are moulded by that."

He believes this is what has helped such as McCabe, Jamie Ness and Andrew Little adapt quickly to first-team action. "You must become comfortable with those demands. Rhys, for example, has shown he can handle an occasion like an Old Firm match and that is the acid test for any of our players."

The immersion into the first-team pool is gradual. "On a daily basis we send through a minimum of two to three kids to play with the first team," he says.

Ally McCoist, the manager, normally leaves Sinclair and his staff to choose the youngsters but sometimes will stipulate who he and the first-team staff want. "That daily exposure is priceless," says Sinclair. "The boys become comfortable with the staff and first-team players. If they were round there [first-team pitches] once every six months, it would be a trial but it is a regular process. [Danny] Wilson, [John] Fleck and Little were all steeped in that."

It was a system favoured by Walter Smith and carried on enthusiastically by McCoist and his assistant, Kenny McDowall. There is a constant dialogue about players. "The manager will ask: 'how is this boy in games?' or 'how does this lad measure up?' But they make up their own mind. Sometimes they will see something in a player we don't and vice versa. But they are better placed to see what is required for their team."

Sinclair, a former PE teacher who took his first coaching badges at 25, knows that the financial troubles besetting the club have increased opportunities for his students. "It is a good time to be a young Rangers player," said Sinclair. "They boys all know it, too. It is ironic that it takes the club's financial position to highlight it but we have the kids who can step forward and make a contribution.

"These young players are not thrown into a bath of cold water. They are acclimatised to the demands of the first-team by training with them regularly. They have stood up to the challenge."

Sinclair would not be pushed on the name of the next youngster to graduate but added: "We have high hopes for many of our under-17 squad."

He pointed out that Ness, whose career has been blighted by injury, remains an excellent prospect. "He is a great talent and when he gets a run of games he will show his class again," he said.

There is hope in the statement but there is trust, too. It has been repaid by his pupils.