In less than a week, Chris Hegarty will be without a contract.

The prospect should be unsettling, even for a 19-year-old who has captained Northern Ireland at under-21 level and who has been told by his manager, Ally McCoist, that he has a future at Ibrox.

Hegarty is prepared to sacrifice peace of mind in return for the chance to establish himself at Rangers, but it is still an uncertain time. He should be taking comfort in the accumulated benefits of his career, having just signed a new boot contract with Pantofola d'Oro, the Italian manufacturer, and other deals await.

His last appearance for Rangers was against Linfield at Windsor Park in an end-of-season friendly, and he has impressed McCoist enough for the manager to insist he wants him to stay. He ought to feel the opportunities he is amassing are a sign of his emergence as a player with the potential to succeed at a high level. When he left Dungannon Swifts to sign for Millwall as a 16-year-old, Swifts used the fee to tar the car park.

Circumstances are still to be overcome now, though. With Rangers waiting for Charles Green's bid for the club to be completed, the Ibrox side remain in limbo. McCoist has spoken to Hegarty and others who are out of contract, such as Andy Little and Andrew Mitchell, but Rangers are not in a position to formally offer them new deals.

"It wouldn't bother me to go without wages because I know I have a good family who will look after me," Hegarty said. "It is something I am prepared to do. I am not worried about it because I want to stay at the club. I'm settled here and it feels like I have a family around me. Somewhere else might not be the same. If I need anything here people like Steven Davis and David Healy will look after me. It is the same with the coaching staff. They are always there for you. The bond between the players has been incredible during the current crisis and it has made us tighter as a group. I'm in a perfect situation as I have supported Rangers all my life, so I owe it to them to wait about."

Career decisions should be made with a detached perspective, but Hegarty is not being clouded by his emotions. With the Scottish Football Association's 12-month registration embargo surviving an appeal last week, and the financial imperative to reduce the club's wage bill, the younger players in the Rangers squad will be exposed to more first-team football.

The likes of Jamie Ness, Rhys McCabe and, before he left, Gregg Wylde have benefited from being fast-tracked into the first team, while Kane Hemmings, Mitchell, Hegarty and Lewis Macleod are considered ready. With Kyle Hutton, Darren Cole and John Fleck returning from loan spells, McCoist will be able to call upon a number of youth development graduates.

"Everyone agrees that it is a good place to be as a youngster at the moment," Hegarty said. "The club obviously has bigger things to think about than me, but I want to be here next season. I'm trying to remain positive that I will be here. I haven't spoken to anyone else because I want to stay. I will give it another month or so as I'm sure the club will be moving on in the next few weeks now that Mr Green has come in."

Hegarty is a centre-back who also plays right-back, the position McCoist thinks he might initially fill. He is small for a central defender, but compensates by working on his reading of the game, and spends much time closely watching Carlos Bocanegra, who is also not as tall as most current centre-backs. The willingness to learn is commendable, but the players will have to be resourceful and strong-willed to thrive in a scenario that is not ideal. Managers prefer to gradually introduce youngsters, and surround them with experienced figures, but McCoist may be denied that option.

"We just have to grow up and prove we can step up to the plate," Hegarty says. "I don't think there will be much pressure on us to do well. We are at the top club in Scotland so if you are good enough to be here, you should be able to give it a go. I'd prefer to play alongside Carlos Bocanegra or Dorin Goian because they keep you right."