ROSS MCCRORIE hasn’t been short of words of encouragement from his managers in recent years.

Now the Rangers midfielder wants to further justify the praise and prove his credentials at Ibrox.

When he made his debut against Partick Thistle, Pedro Caixinha tipped McCrorie to go on and become ‘one of the best centre-halves’ in the history of Rangers and Scotland.

Earlier this year, Steven Gerrard expressed a belief McCrorie was a future Light Blues captain.

After making 25 appearances in his first campaign and 30 under Gerrard’s guidance, McCrorie is ready to establish himself. Once an up-and-coming kid, the 21-year-old is comfortable and assured in his surroundings as a first team player.

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“I feel that way, definitely,” McCrorie said. “Especially after two seasons where I have learned a lot.

“I felt last season that I was established now and I want to kick on now. Instead of being in and out, I want to be playing week in week out.

“In my first season, I was playing week in week out and then towards the end I was out injured.

“A lot of people were asking for me to get back and wanted me back as quickly as possible and that was a feeling of being wanted.

“When I came straight back from injury, I went in and played a full game against Dundee straight away. That was probably the feeling of when it clicked for me.

“Every season it is about developing as a player, getting better and reaching the best level that I can.

“I feel this season is a big one for me, I want to be playing more or less every week. No player can play every game but I want to be one of the main players this season.

“That is my goal and I would like to think I can do that. It is frustrating when you are in and out, I don’t want to be a bit-part player. I want to be a main player, playing week in week out and playing plenty of games. It is up to me to do make that happen.”

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The short summer break has offered everyone at Ibrox a chance to reflect and take stock after an encouraging campaign. But it was ultimately an unsuccessful one as Rangers once again had to watch on while Celtic dominated domestically.

There are mixed feelings, then, for McCrorie. It was by no means a wholly disappointing term on a personal level, but he will always want more, always strive for individual improvement in an attempt to play his part in the collective goals.

“I think it was very up and down,” McCrorie said. “I played a lot of games but there were spells when I was out of the team. Sometimes that was frustrating being in and out, but on the whole it is a learning curve.

“I think I have got better at dealing with that in football but if you ask any player they will tell you that they are not happy sitting on the side.

“They want to be playing week in week out but the competition we have got in the team is really good. At Rangers, you need that level of quality and that freshness in the squad.

“That is the same every year, every team has new players coming in and there is a challenge there.

“I am sure all the boys will relish that fierce competition for places and everyone has to graft away.

“You always have players coming in for your position and you need to fight to be one of the main players and to be playing week in week out.

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“It is not just me, every player in the squad wants to play as many games as they can. The manager has been good with me and I have just got to keep learning, keep working away and see where it takes me.”

Rangers will return to pre-season action on Monday as boss Gerrard steps up his preparations for his second season at Ibrox.

His first was one of progress but the lack of silverware means it could not be considered a success.

The Gers head into the new campaign with renewed hope but the same aspirations remain.

McCrorie said: “We still didn’t win anything, we never got a trophy. So the hard work has to always continue.

“The season was really good, the team were confident, especially after some of the games we won last year.

“We just need to tidy up the consistency. Hopefully we are more consistent throughout the whole team and we can win something.

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“There has definitely been progress and the quality of the team has risen so much. The quality of each player in each position has risen, the majority of us are internationals at various levels. We all know what is at stake and at a club like Rangers you need to win trophies. I would say there has definitely been progress and the quality in the team has progressed a lot.”

*Rangers Academy graduate Ross McCrorie is pictured promoting the Rangers Youth Development Company.

Since 2002, RYDC profits have been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth programme - with almost £8 million provided so far.

And in January, Academy Head Craig Mulholland and youth graduate Glenn Middleton accepted an RYDC donation of £400,000.

For full details on RYDC’s growing portfolio of products – the re-launched Rangers Pools, Rangers Lotto, Rising Stars, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and the Youth Members Club - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914.