SPECULATING whether the kids who play for Celtic and Rangers in pre-season friendlies can feature in the first team in the campaign ahead is something of a summer tradition in Scotland.

Fans at Parkhead and Ibrox love to see youths come through the ranks and establish themselves as regular starters. So when some bright prospect gets his chance and acquits himself well, even in meaningless non-competitive fixtures, it creates a sense of anticipation.

Watching Jame Barjonas, Nathan Patterson and Lewis Mayo in action for Steven Gerrard’s men against Lyon and Nice in the Veolia Trophy in France last week made followers of the Govan club sit up.

The same was true in the East End of Glasgow as Karamoko Dembele, Connor Hazard, Ewan Henderson, Scott Robertson and Stephen Welsh all received run-outs from Neil Lennon.

A few of those aforementioned individuals could potentially build on their encouraging showings in the months ahead. Henderson, for instance, impressed enormously when he was handed a few starts of seasons ago. Will he follow in the footsteps of James Forrest, Mikey Johnston and Callum McGregor? Time will tell.

Yet, the hopes of supporters are invariably dashed every 12 months. The chances are the majority of those who stepped up will return to the relative obscurity of the under-20 sides, be farmed out to senior clubs elsewhere or depart altogether going forward.

Indeed, no sooner had Barjonas slotted a fine goal in the 2-0 win over Nice in the Groupama Stadium on Saturday that clinched victory in the mini-tournament for Rangers had it emerged that the 20-year-old midfielder could head out on loan again. Ayr United, Burton Albion and Orange County SC in the United States are all interested.

With so much at stake in the 2020/21 season – Lennon is bidding to complete 10-In-A-Row and Gerrard will be endeavouring to stop him achieving that record-breaking feat and hold onto his job – it will be understandable if their managers stick with the tried and tested.

Gerrard - who, of course, became a great at English giants Liverpool after graduating from the Anfield youth set-up - would love nothing more than to promote youngsters. But do they have the burning desire, mental strength and technical ability which he did? He needs to be convinced before he does so.

“I want to bring players from the academy,” he told Rangers TV at the weekend. “But first of all, they have to get involved in the football club. If you don’t get involved in the football club, you won’t be seen anywhere near me.

“And you must be good enough. So they have to train every day as if it meant the world for them to play for the Rangers.”

It was interesting listening to Gerrard talking about the attitude of some of those in the Rangers academy in that interview. “There's been a bit of ego about,” he said. “So they won't be around me.”

There is no shortage of Prada-wearing “ballers” clutching their Louis Vuitton washbags who have about as much chance of making it as professionals as Manchester City have of doing another treble this season at training complexes across the country.

But there could be no better person to weed them out and coax through genuine talent than Gerrard.

That said, he has brought in Calvin Bassey, Ianis Hagi and Jon McLaughlin, who all acquitted themselves well in France, and is in the market for another striker to complement Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos. There are sure to be a more arrivals before the transfer window closes in October. They will limit the opportunities for his babes further.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has altered the football landscape considerably in the last four months and could impact on what business he, and his counterparts across the country, can do. Are Rangers really going to lavish millions of pounds on a raft of fresh faces in such an uncertain financial climate? It would almost be irresponsible of them if they did so.

Gerrard, though, could benefit greatly from turning to the likes of Barjonas, Bassey, Mayo, Ross McCrorie and Patterson as he bids to land his first major piece of silverware.

It is the oldest cliché in football, but a good team comprises a mixture of youth and experience. He has, in Scott Arfield, Steven Davis, Defoe, Allan McGregor and James Tavernier, no shortage of the latter. Of the former? Not so much.

Would incorporating their enthusiasm, exuberance and freshness ensure there is no repeat of the costly slump in form which sunk the Ibrox club’s bids to win the Premiership in the last two seasons?

George Edmundson, who helped Rangers keep clean sheets in victories against both Lyon and Nice in the absence of Filip Helander and Nikola Katic, and Hagi, who scored in the first of those foreign forays, should provide a spark in both defence and attack.

But there would be no harm in pitching a few of Craig Mulholland’s stand-out pupils at Auchenhowie into the mix and seeing if they can meet expectations given the circumstances all clubs currently find themselves in because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

They would certainly receive the fans' backing.