PHILIPPE Clement has been involved in football for long enough as a player, a coach and a manager to understand what an exciting young talent has to contend with both on and off the park when he first breaks through.

“You get a lot of new friends,” said the Rangers manager at Auchenhowie on Friday. “And girlfriends! Or at least they try!”

Clement, though, has absolutely no concerns about Ross McCausland, who has been thrust into the spotlight overnight this season, losing his focus and being enticed by the trappings of fame.

The Belgian has given the 20-year-old extensive first team game time since being appointed last month and started him in the cinch Premiership game against Livingston at Almondvale a fortnight ago.

The winger’s bright performances for the Glasgow club led to him being handed his debut for Northern Ireland in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Finland in Helsinki during the international break.

McCausland is out of contract at the end of the 2023/24 campaign and there has been speculation in the media that clubs down south and further afield are circling and may snap him up for a nominal fee next summer.

But Clement, whose team return to action with a league meeting with Aberdeen at Pittodrie this afternoon, is certain his gifted protégé will agree to sign an extension to his current deal with Rangers and continue to develop in Govan in the months and years ahead.

He has promoted kids into his first team when he was in charge at Beveren, Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco and is confident he can help him fulfil his vast potential due to his experience.

However, he has been impressed by the County Antrim-born midfielder’s maturity as well as his athleticism and ability during his time as Rangers manager to date and has no concerns about him getting sidetracked.

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“Of course, it’s part of my job to keep him focused,” he said. “It’s not the first time in my career as a manager. I’ve given lots of chances to young players at previous clubs because they’ve shown me quality.

“He’s one of the guys who needs it the least of the young players I’ve met before. With his two feet on the ground, working hard, he got to the national team. But he came back as the same boy. Those are really important qualities for his future.”

Clement, whose team take on Aris Limassol in the Europa League on Thursday night, firmly believes that remaining at Rangers, where he has spent the past four years coming through the youth ranks, is the wisest course of action for McCausland.

“So I’ve had a lot of talks like this, the same as I’m doing with Ross right now,” he said. “I think it’s clear that Ross has perfect conditions here.

The Herald: “He has a club where he’s taken all the steps out of the academy. And he has a manager who believes in him. A manager who doesn’t just say that but shows it also by giving him the minutes he’s got.

“He’s close to home with his family and he’s not at a level of learning that’s finished here at Rangers. He still has a lot to learn to become a better player and take the next step. I think it’s the perfect scenario to re-sign here so we’ll see what happens in the next few days.”

Clement has also been giving a lot of thought to the futures of three Rangers stalwarts whose contracts at Ibrox expire at the end of the season – left back Borna Barisic and midfielders Ryan Jack and John Lundstram.

He stressed that the more he sees of his charges in training and in matches the easier it will be for him to make calls on their personal situations.

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“We’re busy talking in the club about January, about next season,” he said. “It’s the period to do that. We’re busy around recruitment for next season. Of course it’s part of the job. I see more things about the players, I get to know them more and more. So it will be a better decision made.”

Asked if he knew what business he wanted to carry out during the January transfer window, he said: “In big parts, yes. Not in the finest details because these next 12 games (up until the winter break) will show a me a lot.

“It’s dangerous after four weeks to make major conclusions. But in general, I know I have to get more balance in this squad. You see in some positions I have a lot of players - maybe too much. And in other positions, I don’t have enough for a long series of games.

“Those are things I need to get the balance. It’s also important for the future of the club that we don’t get into a situation where you have so many players who are playing and out of contract. That’s not a normal situation.”

The Herald: Clement took full advantage of the international break and enjoyed a short getaway in the Highlands with his wife. But he is looking forward to Rangers returning to action and the punishing schedule of matches they have coming up over the festive period. He would not have it any other way. 

“I’ve been lucky, and I do call it lucky, because at all of my teams, except my first team, have played in Europe,” he said. “A lot of times we have played in Europe after January, so it has always been busy.

“Before as a player also, we played in Europe for ten years with Bruges. Also, there was football with the national team. I love this period.  I hear also from some players that they love this more than a lot of training sessions. I don’t know if it’s something to do with my training sessions!

“It’s the job and it’s good to have these challenges every few days. It’s about making good decisions to make sure the players are totally ready. We see them every day from the second they come into the building to late in the evening, if something is going on. I love that life.”