IAN Durrant knows only too well how unique demands are placed on a teenager playing for Rangers.

The Ibrox legend made his first-team debut aged just 18 back in 1985 in a league match against Morton at Cappielow.

The slight midfielder from Govan was an ever-present from that moment until he suffered a career-threatening injury three years later.

So the Light Blues legend, now a key member of Ally McCoist's coaching team, knows the pressure the current crop of kids are under.

But he has backed Robbie Crawford, Barrie McKay and Lewis Macleod to cope with the expectation of playing for the Glasgow giants at such a tender age.

In fact, he believes the talented home-grown trio can form the backbone of the Rangers team for "many years to come".

"The boys have been outstanding" he enthused. "It is a great testimony to Jimmy Sinclair and the boys in the youth department.

"For some reason, they have come in for some criticism for players not coming through.

"But there is an abundance of players. It is just down to them to make sure they take their chance when they get it.

"Robbie, Barrie and Lewis have certainly taken their chance. Young Lewis has not missed a game. If he keeps producing the way he has been then he will be playing week in, week out.

"They are still at the tender age of 17 and 18. They have got a bit of growing to do physically. But what is important at the moment is that they stay in the team and enjoy the football.

"There will be times when the form of these guys take a wee dip because of their age. But as long as they are staying energetic, enjoying their training and putting the work in, they will come on leaps and bounds.

"All three are exceptional footballers. I'm sure they would have been involved if we were playing in the SPL due to the Under-21 rule. That would have given them a chance.

"But now that we are in the Third Division they have got their chance and they are going to flourish. I can see them being mainstays of Rangers for many years to come."

DURRANT added: "I was delighted when I heard they had signed new deals last week. Obviously with the transfer embargo coming into force our young boys had to take centre stage.

"They have certainly done that. Macleod, McKay and Crawford have been exceptional with the first team."

Of the three youngsters to find themselves suddenly promoted to the Rangers first team in the 2012/13 campaign, McKay has received the most attention.

The diminutive kid has even been likened by many – including legendary Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Andy Goram – to Durrant back in his heyday.

The man himself is an unashamed fan of the skilful starlet and admits he can understand the comparison.

"There are similarities between us, I suppose," he agrees. "Before I got my injury, I had a fair bit of pace.

"I also played out on the right. We are also a similar height.

"But it is unfair to compare him to anybody. I think Barrie just wants to make his own name, carve out his own place in the game. He is certainly doing that.

"When he gets the ball people are on the edge of their seats.

"He is the sort of flair player the club has been crying out for. He has been a breath of fresh air."