Date: 28th July 2021 at 12:33pm
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I hate to say I told you so, but well…

Half way through last season it became clear that the next member of the Rangers academy to make the step up into Steven Gerrard’s first-team was going to be Stephen Kelly.

The 21-year old central midfielder had impressed for Ross County against some decent sides and for all that he may not have been universally loved in the Highlands, his style of play looked as if it was going to be tailor made for the Gers engine room.

This pre-season, Kelly and perhaps Cedric Itten, have been two of the biggest plus points, the former showing that, in Steven Davis’s absence, he is capable of showing the sort of maturity required to dictate the tempo of the game and relieve the pressure off team-mates by always making himself available, even if it means putting himself in the firing line in the process.

Having been given the opportunity to play alongside experienced internationals, Kelly has be calm, composed and spread the ball about with consummate ease, even in the face of illustrious opposition.

How far will Rangers go in the Champions League?

Qualifiers

Qualifiers

Group stages

Group stages

Knockout stages

Knockout stages

As we have seen in the past, having ability alone isn’t enough to make it at Rangers and, like Nathan Patterson, Kelly has arrived, his desire to constantly get on the ball, dictate play and orchestrate those around him, shows that he is more than capable of contributing in the coming season.

He won’t learn anything going out on loan to another Premiership side, training day-in, day-out, with better players and learning from the likes of Davis is now the best education he can get, there’s also the small matter of the manager and his assistant being two of Britain’s best in recent memory – if pre-season has shown us a glimpse of what he can do, and he improves, our worries about who takes over from the Northern Ireland skipper are over.