ROSS McCRORIE has struggled to get a look-in at Ibrox this season. After a promising debut campaign last year, the 20-year-old looked set to have a bright future at the club but has fallen by the wayside a little this season.

This is not to say McCrorie hasn’t featured at all - the defensive midfielder has 21 appearances to his name this season, and played in the group stages of the Europa League - but it appears as though Steven Gerrard is yet to be fully convinced by the Scotland under-21 internationalist.

The problem is that nearly half of McCrorie’s appearances for Rangers this season have been via the substitute’s bench, which is hardly ideal for a young player who needs gametime to develop. Gerrard has often brought McCrorie on late into games to shore up the midfield and see a game out, but this approach could be detrimental to McCrorie’s long-term development.

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The facts of the matter are that there is only really one space in Gerrard’s starting lineup available for McCrorie to fill, that is presently occupied by Ryan Jack. The former Aberdeen player has had a decent season but the arrival of Glen Kamara in January will surely have the 27-year-old looking nervously over his shoulder.

The reason Jack has been one of the first names on the teamsheet at Ibrox this season is in no small part down to his tidiness on the ball. Jack excels at patiently circulating the ball around the midfield and until Kamara joined, there was no other player on the books at Rangers capable of doing a similar job. But Kamara has shown that he’s a better passer of the ball than Jack, which begs the question: why should Jack be an automatic starter?

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The graphic above compares Jack and McCrorie’s defensive midfielder stats and while Jack is posting better numbers in most regards, McCrorie isn’t too far behind. Jack is 27 years old and should be approaching the peak of his career, yet 20-year-old McCrorie is posting numbers that are only marginally worse.

The one area where Jack clearly has the edge over McCrorie is in his distribution but, as previously mentioned, Gerrard can already rely on Kamara to move the ball around the midfield and pick out a team-mate. In possession, Jack isn’t as good as Kamara and out of it, McCrorie is only slightly worse. Why not give the 20-year-old youth product an opportunity?

HeraldScotland:

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There’s certainly an argument to be made that Rangers play better with McCrorie in the starting XI. Rangers have only lost one match that McCrorie has featured in this season, the 1-0 defeat away to Rapid Vienna in the final match of the Europa League group stages, and the midfielder has played his part in some of Rangers’ best results this season.

When Rangers won their first Old Firm derby in years, McCrorie played the full 90 minutes. McCrorie played the entirety of Rangers’ sole win over Aberdeen in six attempts this season and has given a good account of himself whenever he was asked to play in Europe. When he’s been given a chance, generally speaking, McCrorie has done well.

It’s hard to see Jack really pushing on between now and the end of the season and the midfielder has had ample opportunity to cement his place in Gerrard’s starting lineup. As it stands, he has failed to do so and it is not unreasonable for someone else to be given a fair crack of the whip. McCrorie is probably the only youth player to have came through the ranks at Ibrox in recent seasons and if he cannot be given a run in the team, then one can’t help but wonder if anyone ever will.