McCulloch moulds Rangers kids for top team in Jig time

CALUM Gallagher is confident Rangers can maintain their push for a unique domestic treble - despite their mounting injury concerns.

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Calum Gallagher has paid tribute to Rangers skipper Lee McCulloch for his support
Calum Gallagher has paid tribute to Rangers skipper Lee McCulloch for his support

Ian Black and Nicky Law were the latest Gers stars to pick up knocks in the 2-1 victory over Brechin City at Glebe Park on Sunday.

The pair - the first choice central midfield partnership at the Ibrox club - are being assessed by medical staff at Murray Park this week.

But Ally McCoist is hoping the duo will be available for the Ramsdens Cup final and the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final later this month.

The Light Blues gaffer is already without key players Andy Little and David Templeton.

Yet, teenage forward Gallagher, who has started the last two matches for the first team, is confident he can help out if called upon.

And he thinks having captain Lee McCulloch involved in the starting line-up will enable the Glasgow giants to keep on winning games.

The 19-year-old revealed how McCulloch has been a huge help to him, both on and off the park, since he started to work with McCoist's side.

And he believes the vastly experienced centre-half will ensure his side remain competitive - no matter who is present in the starting line-up.

He said: "I would say that Jig has probably been the biggest help to both myself and the other young lads at the club who have broken through into the first team.

"He is the best club captain that we could ask for. He is dead encouraging and he sometimes comes and helps out with the training with the young lads.

"He sets a great example in and around Murray Park for all of us. He is good at taking the young lads aside and sharing the benefits of his experience with us.

"Then when you are on the pitch I think what he does speaks for itself. He leads the team on the park by example and drives us all on."

Gallagher added: "To be honest, all of the first team lads are excellent with all of the younger lads.

"This season I have been involved a bit more in the first team training sessions and Jon Daly also sets me a good example. I can only learn from him.

"My preferred position is as an out-and-out striker. But I am happy no matter where I am on the pitch just as long as I am in the team somewhere.

"We have a few injuries to contend with at the moment and hopefully I can help the manager out by slotting into the side."

Gallagher is the latest in a long line of kids to emerge from the youth ranks and break into the Rangers side.

Lewis Macleod, Fraser Aird and Robbie Crawford have all featured regularly as the Gers have romped to the SPFL League One title.

Elsewhere, the likes of Luca Gasparotto, Chris Hegarty, Barrie McKay and Ross Perry have all made appearances for the first team.

Gallagher, who scored on his debut after coming on as a late substitute against Dunfermline this month, confirmed his contemporaries' success has given him self-belief.

He said: "It has been really encouraging for me seeing the likes of Lewis and Robbie and Fraser get their chance in the last couple of seasons.

"They set a benchmark for those of us in the under-20s. They show us what can be achieved if we work hard and give us something to aim for.

"I have been playing in the same team as Lewis since we were both at under-17 level and get on really well with him.

"Obviously he is out just now. But he has been in the first team at Rangers in the last couple of years and has done really well. He has shown what can be done."

Murray Park has, since it opened at a cost of £14million back in 2001, often been criticised for failing to produce enough players for the Rangers first team.

However, Glasgow boy Gallagher feels he has developed hugely as a player since arriving at the Auchenhowie complex thanks to the coaching he has received.

And the youngster paid a glowing tribute to the staff who have helped him force his way into a side that has gone undefeated in the league so far this season.

He also revealed that working with McCoist and his back room team - Ian Durrant and Kenny McDowall - since joining the first team squad had also taken his game to a new level.

Gallagher said: "From my own standpoint, I work a lot with Gordon Durie and Billy Kirkwood and Jim Sinclair and they do a great job.

"They keep us encouraged and show us what we should be doing. Jukey especially. With me being a striker he has a lot of words of wisdom for us.

"It has obviously been much more of the same with the first team. I couldn't ask for a better coaching team to help me to develop and progress as a player."


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