By Ibrox News speaking to Alex McLeish

18th Jul, 2021 | 11:10am

Alex McLeish thrilled as Rangers loan Ben Williamson to Livingston

We’re delighted to welcome former Rangers manager Alex McLeish as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Ibrox…

Alex McLeish has set Rangers midfielder Ben Williamson the challenge of forcing his way into the Livingston starting XI after his loan move to West Lothian.

Rangers announced on their official club website on Monday [12/07/21] that the 19-year-old has signed a new deal with the Gers to keep him at the club until 2023, and subsequently been sent out on loan to fellow Premiership side Livingston.

Williamson spent the second half of the 2020/21 season out on loan at Championship outfit Arbroath, picking up their Young Player of the Year award, and that form earned him an extended run in Steven Gerrard’s pre-season training camp this summer.

The Rangers manager wanted to have a closer inspection before sanctioning his loan exit, and he looks to have been impressed with Williamson handed fresh terms.

Former Light Blues boss McLeish has warned Williamson he is making a big move, but backed him to make huge strides this season.

“That’s the thing about the young players, they have to be playing,” McLeish told Ibrox News.

“Staying at the club and training with the first team is obviously fantastic but playing competitively is when you learn.

“It’s a great rise for him to go to a big club.

“What he has to do now is cement a place in the side at Livingston and that’s got to be his goal this season.”

Big test

Livingston finished fifth in the Premiership last season, so it’s a pretty steep step for Williamson to take in his career.

He will be battling the likes of former Rangers midfielder Jason Holt for a place in the side, but that’s exactly the sort of competition he should be relishing at this stage of his career.

Williamson will face a tough task to break into the Rangers midfield over the next few seasons, as it is probably the club’s most competitive position, but if he manages to impress in the same division this year, then he could be brought back into the fold sooner rather than later.

In other Rangers news, Neil Lennon reacts as Jim White poses James Tavernier Ibrox exit question.