BARRIE McKAY has swapped a title cruise for a relegation battle in the search for regular first- team football.

And the Rangers youngster hopes his stint on the front line with Morton will allow him to become a key part of Ally McCoist's plans for the rest of the League One campaign.

After bursting onto the scene as the Light Blues claimed the Third Division crown last season, McKay has found it tough to make the same impact this time around as match action has proven hard to come by.

With only a handful of outings to his credit, a host of big name stars blocking his path to a starting jersey and no Under-20 fixtures due to a winter break, it came as no surprise when the winger was shipped out on loan last month.

He has already played three times for the Ton after being brought on board by new Cappielow boss Kenny Shiels.

It's just another idiosyncrasy of the situation Rangers find themselves in that young players move up the Scottish league ladder in a bid to gain experience.

But the 19-year-old admits the chance to take a short-term hiatus from life at Murray Park came just at the right time.

"The reason I came out on loan was to play games," McKay told SportTimes.

"I want to be playing first-team football and coming to Morton has given me the chance to do that.

"I need to get games under my belt and get some more experience. I am playing at a good level and enjoying it.

"I spoke with the manager about things and he said it would be good for me to go out on loan and get some games in the next few weeks.

"I want to be playing and I think coming to Morton was the best thing for me to do just now. I haven't been playing for Rangers so it made sense to look elsewhere and get some game time.

"Hopefully, when I go back the manager will think it is time to give me a chance.

"If he does, it is up to me to take it and then kick on from there for the rest of the season.

"There are still a lot of big games coming up for Rangers and I want to be involved."

McKay was not the only Light Blues protege that caught the imagination of the Ibrox crowd last season as boss McCoist put his faith in the Murray Park production line.

But, while compatriots Lewis Macleod and Fraser Aird have been able to retain their places in McCoist's plans, the Scotland youth international has fallen down the pecking order so far this term.

The arrivals of Arnold Peralta, Jon Daly and Nicky Clark have limited McKay's chances to impress, but the forward is realistic about the situation as Rangers look to storm through the lower leagues.

He said: "The young boys all did well last season, especially the likes of Lewis and Fraser, but we all knew that the manager was going to sign players when he could and strengthen the squad over the summer.

"He has brought in a lot of really good players and they have been doing the business on the park.

"They deserve to be playing and be in the team. It is unfortunate that it is harder to get into the team, but that is football.

"You have to wait for your chance and when it comes along you need to take it."

While McKay, Aird, Robbie Crawford and Chris Hegarty won plaudits for the way they adapted to life in the Rangers first team last term, it was Macleod who was the pick of the crop of Ibrox youngsters.

Even he has had a fight on his hands this season, however, with the midfielder often deployed in a wider role as Ian Black and Nicky Law have held down the central berths.

He continues to excel,though, with his burgeoning reputation growing each week.

McKay said: "Lewis was terrific last season and he has been excellent this year as well. He deserves his place in the team and the praise he has been getting. I don't think anyone can question that."

While the picture, on the field at least, continues to be rosy for Gers, McKay has found himself in an altogether different situation as Morton continue to toil.

Shiels' side are eight points adrift of Cowdenbeath ahead of their weekend trip to Livingston and McKay is determined to play his part in their recovery before his Ibrox return.

He said: "It is good to be able to play games, but the results have been frustrating. We need results and we are determined to change that. The manager has come in and put across his point and his plans and the boys have all taken to it.

"We haven't had the end product, but we have played well and I am confident things will turn around.

"The manager has the boys on his side and I am sure we'll start getting results and hopefully close the gap on teams above us."