MARK ALLEN, the Rangers Director of Football, is open to the prospect of Colt teams joining the SPFL ranks after proposals for a fifth tier in Scotland came to light.

The Hampden hierarchy are considering introducing a League Three that would see four teams from the Highland League and four from the Lowland League join four Premiership youth sides.

Rangers have long been advocates of any plan that would give their young players a chance to test themselves in a competitive environment in a bid to aid their development in their formative years.

The blueprint has yet to be formalised and will require approval at SPFL board level before any new division is created and the Colt team idea can progress.

The fifth tier would give ambitious teams from the Highland League and Lowland League a chance to move up the professional pyramid and progress in the SPFL ranks without having to go through the current play-off system.

And it would also provide a safety net for current League Two clubs that fear dropping out of the SPFL should they finish bottom of the fourth division.

Rangers would likely be joined by Old Firm rivals Celtic in providing a team for the new league should the opportunity arise in the future.

And former Manchester City Head of Academy Allen believes the benefits would be clear for the Light Blues as he looks to promote up-and-coming talents through the ranks and into Steven Gerrard’s first team squad.

He told SportTimes: “I have been quite open about this from my time in England and the gap between youth football and first team is huge and we have got to find a way, in this country, of bridging that gap.

“Colt teams are certainly a way towards bridging that gap, of bringing youth and young players to a level where they can play in men’s football, where they can be judged in men’s football, and where they are surrounded by an environment of men’s football.

“That can be supporters cheering them on or giving them stick. That is all a vital part of a player’s development and you learn about the player and how they cope in that environment.

“Can they take it? Are the only good when nobody is watching? Do they play better when lots of people are watching?

“It is all part of it and it forms the development of any player, so an environment that gets as close to men’s football as possible, as soon as we can get it, can only be a good thing.

“To be honest, from my perspective, that is for the authorities and the regulators to decide when that can be.

“For me, on a purely selfish level, it is the sooner the better. The sooner I can expose young talent to men’s football the better.”