By Sam Stone

3rd Nov, 2022 | 8:10am

View: Rangers cannot afford to mishandle Cole McKinnon

Rangers have had plenty of young players come through their ranks in recent years, and there has certainly been differing levels of success.

B-team players are often shipped out on loan into the lower leagues of Scottish football, sometimes never to be seen again. For whatever reason, the Scottish Championship and lesser leagues don’t seem like the best breeding ground for youth talents to develop.

However, for once, it appears the Gers have seen one of their players shine whilst on a temporary agreement away from Ibrox. Cole McKinnon made the summer move to Championship side Partick Thistle and hasn’t looked back since making the short trip across Glasgow. The 19-year-old midfielder has been a mainstay at the Firhill Stadium, playing all but one Scottish Championship fixture.

Furthermore, McKinnon has registered two goals and four assists for The Jags, whilst operating in an advanced attacking midfield role. His performances have now gone unnoticed with The Scottish Sun reporting (5 September) that Newcastle United are interested in signing the youngster after his impressive start to the campaign.

McKinnon is contracted to Rangers until the summer of 2025, so the Light Blues are in a strong position to retain his services should a bigger club come calling. However, after his loan spell at Partick Thistle comes to a close, the Gers should be looking to include the youngster in and around the first team.

If he isn’t given a chance in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s plans, then there is every chance his head could well become swayed and, in turn, make him reluctant to sign a new deal at the club.

All the underlying numbers suggest McKinnon is performing with consistency and will only improve with the more matches he plays. At the moment he’s an all-round goal threat for the Championship side, with the 19-year-old in the top 20 players for shots and expected assists per 90 minutes (Wyscout).

Rangers have another prospect on their hands that they cannot afford to mishandle.