THE lucrative new contract is in the process of having the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. With a long and prosperous future in the Rangers first-team now opening out on the horizon, it is only natural that Barrie McKay’s eye should drift to other items on his ever-shortening ‘to-do’ list.

His manager, Mark Warburton, has already expressed the view that the 21-year-old, who spent last season farmed out on loan to Raith Rovers, has the ability to progress to the higher reaches of the Barclays Premier League, the promised land for most young players, in time.

For the moment, though, he believes there is a more attainable, shorter-term target for McKay in the form of Scotland recognition.

The one-time Kilmarnock trainee has found it difficult to gain acceptance at Under-21 level far less expect his name to be listed in Gordon Strachan’s squad. After two-and-a-half years of being pretty much ignored, he only earned a recall last November for a European Championship qualifying match against Ukraine.

Even so, Warburton, who has most certainly revitalised McKay’s career with an unwavering faith that has come as a surprise to many, insists there should be no doubt over the winger’s suitability for the international game.

“He is the quickest player at the club and technically comfortable with both feet,” he remarked. “He can drive inside and outside and the fact he can play left, right or central is fantastic.

“He has the ability to drive forward and, when you play midfield, you have to be on it.

“When Jason Holt was out for a couple of games, we didn’t get enough bodies going beyond the striker, but look at Barrie’s goal at Morton where he plays a one-two with Kenny Miller and scores.

“He has two good feet, he can shoot, he can cross, he can take people on. He is brave and doesn’t shy away from a mistake, tracks back and is just turned 21.

“In answer to the question: ‘Is he Scotland quality?’ For me, absolutely.”

McKay’s representatives are still in talks with Rangers over a new deal, but Warburton is confident negotiations will be tied up sooner rather than later.

“It’s just details, but they are important,” he said. “Getting them right is all part of making people happy. I think there is loads more to come from him.”

Next stop in McKay’s rapid ascent is Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium and its artificial surface, with those ever-so-controversial five yards lopped off at either side. Warburton and others have voiced their criticism of plastic pitches being used in the senior game and Martyn Waghorn, the Rangers forward, has conceded that their prevalence in Scotland did make him think twice about joining from Wigan Athletic in the summer.

“You don't really come across it too often playing down south,” he said. “I did think about it when I came up here, but you have just got to accept it.

"When Rob Kiernan came up, he told me about it. It's not ideal, to be honest, because I don't think they are good for your body. You do think that you could get injured on these surfaces, just because of the reports and studies that have come out lately

“I think I will be struggling in 20 years’ time no matter what, mind you. Knowing my body, I will probably the struggling in 10.”

Waghorn insists, though, that worries about artificial surfaces in Scotland should not prevent Warburton from strengthening his side in the summer.

“I don't think players come here and think: 'Oh, the pitches are a bit funny’,” he said. “I think they come to play for one of the biggest clubs in Europe with the prospect of winning leagues and cups and playing in Europe. That's the reason why you come here."

The decision of Alloa’s manager, Jack Ross, to narrow the pitch after taking over in December has caused a degree of controversy in the build-up to this afternoon’s match, but Waghorn does not regard it as an issue.

“It is not against the rules and their manager is going to try to be more effective at home, I guess, but it is not going to affect us,” he said. "We believe in ourselves."

Waghorn has scored 27 goals this season, but still hears suggestions that Rangers would benefit from bringing in a more natural target man. It is all water off a duck’s back.

“We’ve played as a front three and I’ve played as a striker in the majority of the games,” he said. “Recently, I’ve been used out wide, but the gaffer gives me the freedom to go through the centre if I sense a chance while Kenny can go wide.

“It’s just trying to find a way to break teams down.

“If they want to sign another striker, that’s great. Maybe we could do with another at times.

“I’d like to say I’m a number nine, but I’m not an out-and-out striker. I like to come short and get the ball, drift, play wide. I’d say I’m a nine-and-a-half.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a poacher in the box, but maybe I could add that to my game.”