GRAHAM Roberts is living proof that the lower leagues in England shouldn't be dismissed as a productive source of talent. He had been languishing at unheralded south coast footballing outposts Dorchester Town and Weymouth until the legendary Spurs boss Bill Nicholson persuaded him to join his Tottenham Hotspur side for the princely sum of £35,000 in May 1980.

From there it was on to the small matter of one Uefa Cup winners' medal, two FA Cups, one Scottish Premier Division and League Cup double and six England caps. No wonder then that the former Rangers player feels the critics should think twice before writing off Josh Windass and Matt Crooks for having the temerity to have been recruited from League Two outfit Accrington Stanley.

In fact, neither man's beginnings are humble as that, with Crooks having spent time at Manchester United's academy as a youngster, and Windass having learned his trade at both Huddersfield and Bradford, but that hasn't stopped some observers writing off their ability to make an impact in the Ladbrokes Premiership when the Ibrox club finally return there. Both men have agreed pre-contracts to join Mark Warburton's side in the summer, but deals could yet be done to take them this month. A trio of Wigan cast-offs, particularly Martyn Waghorn and James Tavernier, have cast most things before them thus far in Scotland, while Harry Forrester, formerly of Doncaster Rovers, made his debut on Saturday. Matt Stevens, a 17-year-old from Barnet, is apparently also on the Ibrox club's radar while another transfer target this month is Toumani Diagouraga, whose club Brentford would have been the source of similarly misguided derision only a couple of short seasons back.

"There are lots of bargains out there in English football," Roberts told Herald Sport. "There are lots of kids that want to do really, really well, younger players who want to progress and how do they progress if they don't get a chance to go to a bigger club?

"You have got to realise that clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham have bigger academies than Celtic and all the big clubs in Scotland have ever seen in their life," he added. "There are a lot of players down here who don't get to the 19s and 21s, they get released before then. I remember talking to Liam Brady when he was at Arsenal, they won the League Cup, the Youth Cup, every cup going with this team, yet they didn't keep one player because the team they had before had done everything and the team a year later couldn't take their places.

"I have watched them [Windass and Crooks] on TV," Roberts added. "Windass scores goals for fun and his dad was a goalscorer. I think they will both thrive going there. Rangers is a massive club and just getting to play with better players will help them. Look at Harry Kane, he went to Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester, when they were all in the Championship, now he is one of the best strikers in England. These guys are still young so they can only improve.

"When I went to Tottenham, Bill Nicholson said 'don't change what you do best'. But 'you will just improve when you play with the better players'. That is what you do, you work hard, you get fitter. At Rangers the lads will be a lot fitter than they were at Accrington Stanley and that in itself will make a massive difference."

Lurking beneath all this is some frenzied hypothesising on each side of the city about how long it will take the Ibox club to become credible contenders to Celtic once they finally return to the top flight. While St Johnstone ran out comfortable winners at Ibrox in the League Cup earlier in the season and the William Hill Scottish Cup might offer a further clue, Roberts feels the Parkhead club's supporters might be wise to be circumspect on the matter.

"I can understand it if Celtic fans think that signing these kind of players means they won't be able to challenge," said Roberts, "but Celtic are struggling this year to win the league. The Premiership needs Rangers back in there to raise the profile again because at the moment not a lot of people are talking about Scottish football. Once they get back in there, Mark is going to be given money and he has got a lot of contacts at clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal too.

"People saying Rangers are not going to challenge Celtic and all that should watch what they are saying," he added. "Rangers have some talented boys already. Maybe they won't challenge them next year but the year after and the year after that, they will be getting better, bigger and stronger."