There is no question that it is difficult for any youth team player in Scottish Football to break through and get into their respective first teams, but it’s arguably even harder at the two Old Firm teams.
One young prospect that has a real chance of breaking through is sixteen-year-old Rangers striker, Zak Lovelace.
Zak joined the Glasgow side in the summer, joining from English Championship side, Millwall. The young striker scored twenty-one goals in nineteen games for the ‘Lion’s’ youth teams, before at the age of just fifteen, Zak made his professional debut as a second half substitute against Coventry City at the end of last year. He went on to make a total of four appearances under manager, Gary Rowett.
Before joining Millwall at the age of thirteen, Lovelace played for local team, Glebe, where in his final season at the club, he led them to silverware as they won the Kent Youth League. Lovelace scored twenty-six goals in fifteen appearances, and massively boosting his sides chances of winning the title.
When signing for the Ibrox side, Zak went into the Rangers B squad, which currently plays in the Scottish Lowland League. Rangers B are one of three Premiership sides with ‘B’ teams, along with Celtic and Hearts. Rangers B finished second in their debut season in the Lowland League, just beating Celtic on goal difference. It was Bonnyrigg Rose who edged in front of both ‘B’ teams and eventually gain promotion to the SPFL.
Zak’s Rangers B side have won seven out of nine games in the Lowland League so far and sit second in the table, with two games in hand on leaders, East Kilbride.
Upon joining up with the Rangers B squad, Lovelace was high in praise for the Lowland League and Scottish Football in general:
“Playing in this league will definitely help me to become stronger and boost my attributes as I try and push towards first team football.
It’s helped me realise that Scottish football isn’t like English football, at Rangers it’s more technical and about passing the ball more.”
In his first eight Lowland League games, Lovelace has bagged five goals along with adding two assists to his name, and has been impressing first team manager, Giovani van Bronckhorst. So much so that Zak was handed his Rangers first team debut in their Premier Sports Cup victory over Queen of the South. He replaced fellow ‘B’ team teammate, Robbie Ure, and played the last fifteen minutes in a 3-1 win.
There’s a lot of competition in Zak’s position at Rangers with fellow youngsters like Robbie Ure, Alex Lowry and Connor Young; who recently joined the club from Hibernian; all pushing for a first-team spot.
If Zak continues this run of form across the course of the season, we may see his name in first team squads on a more regular basis.
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