Ibrox View: Impressive showings from loanee Kelly prove he deserves a shot at Rangers
There’s nothing better than seeing a young lad come through the academy at Ibrox and make it all the way to the Rangers first team.
The considerable excitement that surrounded Nathan Patterson’s senior debut this season is testament to that, and according to ex-Gers hero Alan Hutton, he could be followed into Steven Gerrard’s plans by 20-year-old talent Stephen Kelly.
The midfielder spent all season on loan at Championship side Ayr United, where he registered six goals, four assists, and picked up their Young Player of the Year award.
Hutton recently told Football Insider that the youngster is considered to be an “exciting” talent by Ibrox chiefs, and we’re absolutely inclined to agree with him.
Over the course of this season, Kelly had a shot accuracy rate that was 8.2% higher than Scott Arfield’s, as per Wyscout, as well as completing 3.3% more dribbles, and winning 2.6% more of his duels.
And in game, Kelly looks like a real prospect.
In the image above, taken from Ayr’s 1-0 win over Inverness back in January, the youngster isn’t even in the picture at the time of the ball being played.
But he is still alive to the threat, and makes up the ground on his man brilliantly.
By the time the ball has reached him, Kelly has nipped in ahead of his man to make a brilliantly clean tackle and instantly put his side on the front foot.
His physicality, but his reading of the game is even better, and with one quick piece of play he manages to put himself in on goal.
The finish is then cooly dispatched – taken early, but certainly rushed, slotting past the keeper from the edge of the box with the backline fractured and all at sea.
Kelly has a smart range of passing too.
The image above illustrates the 10 successful and 16 unsuccessful passes that the youngster made over the course of the 3-1 defeat to Queen of the South back in November.
As well as showing that he can spray the ball about at will, it also gives a sense of just how much ground Kelly covers over the course of a match.
There’s barely a blade of grass that he doesn’t cover as he flits about the pitch, dictating play and creating opportunities.
Nobody knows the art of the box to box midfielder as well as Steven Gerrard, and you would hope that on the evidence of what we’ve seen at Ayr this season, he recognises that the starlet deserves a chance to prove himself at Ibrox in the near future.
In other Rangers news, Ibrox View: Free agent Hladky can be ideal McGregor replacement for Gers.