Rangers’ centre-forward choices look set to be trimmed with the imminent departure of adolescent Zak Rudden. Football Insider reported this morning that the 19-year-old has agreed personal terms on a permanent transfer to Partick Thistle and is due to have a medical prior to the move is finished. The youngster, who was on loan in English League Two side Plymouth since August, signed a contract extension at Ibrox last year but that’s scheduled to expire during the summer (according to Football Insider). Rudden is a graduate of the Rangers academy however never made a first-team appearance, with the closest he came into a senior introduction when he had been an unused substitute for a Europa League qualifier against FC Shkupi in July 2018. He had a decent return of 12 goals in 31 games on loan in Falkirk last season and spent the first half of the current campaign on loan at Plymouth, where he was in and from the first team and handled only two goals from the English fourth tier.
His impending permanent departure from Rangers highlights first-team manager Steven Gerrard’s continuing reluctance to trust from the youth of the club. Only two players aged 21 or below have showcased for the first team this season, together with Josh McPake and Jake Hastie getting only 92 minutes involving them, and they have been on loan at Dundee and Rotherham respectively. Aside from McPake, Lewis Mayo is the only other adolescent to generate a first-team matchday squad this year and he wasn’t called from the bench against St Joseph’s at Europa League qualifying. By comparison, Gerrard has given over 1,000 minutes to four gamers over age 30 this season, with just two of those (Allan McGregor and Scott Arfield) one of the five most-used players at Rangers in the current campaign (as per TransferMarkt). Gerrard may be in the infancy of his managerial career, for this only his second full year in charge at senior level, but so far he has proven far more faith in veterans compared to youthful abilities. Rangers appear to have some very precocious youngsters bubbling under at Ibrox. Teenage defender Nathan Patterson signed a new contract last month, even while 15-year-old Leon King has allegedly surpassed the interest of big names from the English Premier League (according to The Athletic). Nathan Young-Coombes has burst with his goalscoring exploits in the UEFA Youth League and Kai Kennedy was invited by Gerrard to travel together with the senior squad for a league game against Hamilton a few weeks ago. On the other hand, the decision to market Rudden before he made a senior appearance would suggest that Gerrard isn’t willing to provide the youth ago if he believes that they are not up to first-team level. Concerning how hard it is nowadays, to get a break the adolescent’s imminent departure, and the battles of kids for first-team recognition should serve as a warning to the academy crop.