WHATEVER happens in Rangers' pursuit of Michael O'Halloran in the next few days, Ricky Sbragia reckons the Ibrox club have already landed a younger version of him in the form of Billy King. The Scotland Under-21 boss was on a scouting trip south of the border when Herald Sport broke the news of his four-month loan move to the Ibrox club and Sbragia can't see much in the way of downside for any of the parties involved.

Rangers are getting the services of a 21-year-old who is already well used to championship play from last year's title win with Hearts, without the need for a transfer fee. The player will hope for frequent first-team football and the chance to acclimatise to playing in front of 50,000 paying customers. Then there is Hearts themselves, who will hope to get a new and improved player back in the summer for the final year of a deal which lasts till 2017. While King has shown plenty in the 11 matches he has started this season, he is behind Sam Nicholson and fit-again Jamie Walker for a role on the flanks at a team that often plays one winger rather than two.

King and his younger brother Adam have both graduated from Under-19 level through to the Under 21s and Sbragia is a big admirer of both. Billy is actually the oldest of four brothers, with Ross and Robbie both talented young players making their way in the game. While central midfielder Adam is now back at Swansea after a loan spell at Crewe, Billy's loan move to Ibrox means that Rangers can now feature both the starting wingers which featured in the Scotland Under-21's last competitive outing, the 2-2 draw with Ukraine in Paisley. While King started on the right, the re-born Barrie McKay started on the left.

A boyhood Hearts fan who attended Portobello High School, King was one of a number of Tynecastle youngsters blooded as the club gamely battled against relegation from the top flight under Gary Locke. A couple of things stand out when Sbragia looks at him. He has flaring pace and willingness to continually run at players, not to mention an eye for goal - his one-time striking coach John Robertson once said he was "one of the best finishers at the club". He has scored 13 goals in 40 league games but like his one-time Hearts team-mate Jason Holt, he often reserves them for big games. In addition to a winning goal in an Edinburgh derby, King scored a late goal for Scotland's Under-21 side against their French counterparts at Pittodrie but Sbragia's side were unable to complete an unlikely late comeback.

"Billy has done really well for us since coming in and I think it is a great move for him," said Sbragia. "Rangers are getting someone they know can play championship football week in, week out. Someone who has played at places like Alloa before, dealt with the artificial surface, and generally been part of a successful championship campaign. Learning how to handle playing in front of 50,000 each week at Ibrox will be great for his development. But from his point of view the main thing is that he will be looking to play football. The bottom line is you've got to be playing.

"What he does really well is run at people and commit them," the Under-21 manager added. "He puts people on the back foot and attacks the space in behind. He's predominantly right footed, but isn't afraid to go to his left as well. If he gets tackled or something doesn't work out, he just picks himself up, gets on with it and runs at folk again. I would think with him it will be the wide areas, as he is good at keeping his width and stretching the play, which should suit the way Rangers play."

One of the quirks of the deal is the symmetry between Hearts loaning King to Rangers, and Celtic loaning Anthony Stokes to Hibs, but Sbragia reckons that is co-incidental. "I don't think that comes into it," said Sbragia. "Maybe they [Rangers] went for O'Halloran and it didn't work out for whatever reason so they think they can get someone in right now who is similar and younger."

Certainly, there is no better blueprint for King to follow than McKay, a player who has kicked on since loan spells at Morton and Raith Rovers. "We are not badly off with Scotland when it comes to wingers," said Sbragia. "We have Ryan Fraser, Ryan Christie, Sam Nicholson, Billy and Barrie McKay - who came in against Ukraine and did really well. Barrie went on loan a few times and it didn't really work out and that can either be your fault or the club's fault or a combination of both. But he has learned from it, he is playing first team football now and doing extremely well."