KEVIN THOMSON emerged through the ranks at Hibernian alongside a host of top young talents and went on to forge a successful career for himself in the game.

Now he is attempting to guide kids along a similar path from youth football to the Rangers first team squad.

There is one clear problem for the 34-year-old, though. It isn’t the players, but it is the system.

A couple of weeks ago, Rangers lifted the Reserve League title as they edged out Celtic on the final day of the campaign. But the Light Blues won’t defend their crown after raising concerns about the blueprint Scottish football has in place for nurturing our top young talents at youth level.

Thomson said: “I got brought up playing for the youth team on a Saturday morning and then Reserve football on a Monday night.

“You would play at Easter Road, go and play at Partick Thistle or Livingston. I remember being a young player and playing against Motherwell and Owen Coyle was playing. He was giving it that through the whole game, but some of the players, the men, that we played with, we had to meet their demands and expectations.

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“It was a sink or swim situation. If you wanted to fight for a place, you had to compete against men, which was a challenge. I definitely think that stood me, as an individual, and a lot of boys that I broke through with in good stead. I think we should be trying to replicate along those lines, that is where I stand on it.

“I don’t see it doing anyone any good, whether it is Rangers or Celtic or Hibs or Hearts.

“I think that until there are three points on a Saturday, until you are playing in front of crowds, until you have to go to different grounds and pitches and you are really tested, you won’t improve.

“It is about their toughness and how they deal with those kind of things. I just see the Reserve League, no matter what it is called, you play against the same players.

“My biggest bugbear in Scottish football is that there is so much talent between 16 and 19, 20 that is wasted. That is backed up by the national teams, but they don’t seem to go anywhere, they don’t get in the first team and have prolonged careers.

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“To me, it seems an obvious problem and it is one I am really passionate about. There has to be heads banged together and everyone sat round the table to get a better solution so we can really challenge, not just for Rangers, these kids from 16 up to 21 for the late developers. We need to make it more of a challenge.”

Thomson had his own title to toast this term as his Under-18 players won their league and beat Celtic in the Youth Cup final at Hampden.

Now Rangers will face the cream of the crop in the UEFA Youth League at 19s level next season.

Thomson said: “That aspect of winning the league to give the boys the chance to play against some of the best teams is brilliant.

“We, as a club and an Academy, try our best to add in games against the biggest clubs to test the boys.

“I do think those games are the ones you want to try and replicate as much as you possibly can.

“That is no disrespect to any other club, but if boys are turning up and winning 7-0 or 8-0, it is wasting our time and wasting everybody else’s time as well to be honest. That is the part, the competitive edge, is something that we strive for to try and make that challenge for the boys.”