IF Josh McPake could have mapped out his perfect summer, the one that he has just experienced with Rangers wouldn’t have been far off the dream scenario.

He would spend the pre-season with Steven Gerrard’s first team squad in Portugal before returning to Glasgow and penning a new deal that keeps him at Ibrox until 2022.

Just days later, McPake was handed his competitive debut as he came off the bench in the win over St Joseph’s.

The winger has taken a whirlwind few weeks all in his stride. Having earned a contract and a chance, he is determined to improve and impress and make his name in Light Blue

“I knew coming back this summer it was going to be hard for me with the new players that have come into the squad but it is just about trying to prove myself every day, especially in training,” McPake said.

“Going away to Portugal was a big opportunity for me and every time I am round there now I just need to keep pushing. It was a difficult pre-season, it was very intense, but it got my fitness right up and I felt the best I have felt going into a season.


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“It took a wee while to get the contract sorted but it was a relief to get it done and then I got my debut not long after, so it was a good couple of months for me. I had no doubt that I wanted to be at Rangers and I made it clear that this was the club that I wanted to play for.

“I love the direction that the club is going and working with the gaffer. He will give young players chances and every time there are spaces in the squad he has us round. I knew this was where I wanted to be and I wanted it done as soon as possible.

“There were a few offers from other clubs but I always knew that I wanted to stay at Rangers so I’m delighted.”

McPake’s potential and endeavours had already been rewarded by boss Gerrard as he earned a run-out against Oxford in the first friendly fixture of the campaign.

But the moment the 17-year-old had always dreamt of arrived in the Europa League. With 23 minutes remaining against St Joseph’s, he replaced Greg Docherty and became a Rangers player in his own right.

“It was amazing to make my debut, especially on a European night at Ibrox,” McPake said. “I kind of had an idea I might be on the bench the session before so I had to get prepared for it just incase.

“Then, when the gaffer said it was time to come on, it was just adrenaline. Hopefully there are many more to come. My family were there because my mum and dad come to every game that I play in.

“I had an idea so I made sure they were there to enjoy it with me and it was brilliant. I played in the Oxford game and there were 20,000 there, so I got a taste of it. But to then get to play on a European night at Ibrox, there is nothing better.


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“The manager has just told me to keep taking the opportunities when they are there to train and every game I play is a time to impress.”

McPake has certainly caught the eye in recent seasons and the forward has emerged as one of the brightest talents within the youth setup at the Hummel Training Centre.

Supporters are keen to see him rise through the ranks and McPake is determined to deliver for Rangers.

“The message in the Academy is that whenever there is a chance you need to grasp it,” he said. “There is some amount of working going on at the Academy and a lot of money has been put into it to produce players and hopefully there are plenty from my generation coming through.

“It might be a pressure for some people but, me personally, I just take it all in my stride. You know as a young player the fans are going to love you because they want you to come through the ranks.

“I don’t feel any pressure, I just feel that I need to go out and prove that I should be here.”

Given the plethora of attacking talents that Gerrard has at his disposal, it will be tough for McPake to earn more game time this term.

But the chance to feature against some of the top talents in England and abroad at Under-20 level will benefit him and his Gers team-mates in the coming months.

McPake said: “I was a bit too young a couple of years ago to really get involved in the Games Programme but I was in the squad and on the bench a few times and I watched the games. Now I am looking to play in them and I played against Chelsea in the game to open the new stand.

“That was a good contest and I am looking forward to playing the likes of Man United. I experienced the Development League last year so this is a new horizon up against different clubs, different players and different styles of play. I think it will do us all the world of good this season.”

*Rangers Academy forward Josh McPake 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.

For full details on RYDC’s growing portfolio of products – the re-launched Rangers Pools, Rangers Lotto, the Union Jackpot half-time draw, Scratchcards and Stadium Bricks - visit www.rydc.co.uk or call 0141 427 4914