STEVEN GERRARD is looking for big things from youngsters Ciaran Dickson and Leon King after handing the Rangers Academy pair their debuts in the 4-0 Betfred League Cup win at Falkirk.
The immediate prize for the Ibrox boss is a quarter-final tie against St Mirren in Paisley next month.
But Gerrard is also expecting to witness the emergence of 18-year-old midfielder Dickson and defender King, 17, as they were eased into the line-up as the team coasted into the next round with goals from Jermain Defoe, Calvin Bassey, Borna Barisic and James Tavernier.
However, it was the performances of Dickson and King which had the Gers gaffer – who had Filip Helander ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus – purring at the end of a professional performance that swept aside the Division One outfit.
Gerrard, speaking to STV, said: “I though young Dicksie was terrific. He played with energy, he played with personality and he played with character and he is the type that will never let me down.
“He has probably had a similar upbringing to myself and he knows what it means to represent Rangers and the shirt, so we gave him an opportunity to come and train with us five or six weeks ago and he has been terrific every single day.
“He has earned that opportunity. Young Leon is a bit different. Okay, he got the chance on this occasion because a couple dropped out late, but he was ready as well and training very well.
“He is still very young, he’s just turned 17, so I’ll be watching them closely now to see how they react to that taste.
“I want them to go and work as hard as they can to get more opportunities so I’ll be watching them to see whether it goes to their head or whether they want to see this as the start of their careers moving forward.
“They both look physically ready. You judge them in training first and foremost and they are training like first-team players.
“They are not training like young kids who are coming in to make the numbers up. They are affecting training and they are contributing. That is what I want. I see a lot in the academy from afar and these are two good types who deserved that opportunity.”
Veteran hitman Defoe got the ball rolling before defender Bassey pounced from close-range on the half-hour mark for his first Rangers goal. Barisic swept home a free-kick just before half-time while captain Tavernier fired his 14th goal of the campaign.
With Celtic now out of the competition after their shock defeat to Ross County, the Govan club are favourites to go all the way and finally claim their first major trophy since 2011.
Falkirk co-manager David McCracken added: “We have to be realistic. Rangers are playing at a level a lot of teams can’t compete with right now.
“We’re a few tiers below, so the scoreline was no disgrace. We’ll take the positives, learn from it and take that in to our league campaign.”
BETFRED LEAGUE CUP DRAW:
St Mirren v Rangers
Alloa v Hibs
Livingston v Ross County
Dunfermline v St Johnstone
The ties will take place across three evenings between December 15/17.