Ross McCrorie keen to be thrown in at the deep end for Rangers

Ross McCrorie in action for Rangers

Ross McCrorie understands why Steven Gerrard is being protective of him but insists he is ready to be thrown in at the deep end with Rangers.

The 20-year-old made his first-team breakthrough last season under former managers Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty playing mostly as a centre-half.

But it turned out to be a bruising experience for the academy graduate as he was thrown into a rear-guard that shipped nine goals in the space of two heavy Old Firm defeats at the tail end of the campaign.

Ross McCrorie gets an early bath
Image: Ross McCrorie with manager Steven Gerrard

That drew a scathing response from the new man in charge, with Gerrard accusing his predecessors of putting McCrorie's entire career at risk by leaving him exposed at the back.

"He is a baby and when you are coaching babies you have to protect them from ruining them," said the former Liverpool captain of a player he now regards purely as a central midfielder.

"If you toss them into huge Old Firm derbies out of position, there is a risk you can damage people and scar them."

Rangers Manager Steven Gerrard celebrates his side's aggregate win in the Europa League against Maribor
Image: Gerrard celebrates against Maribor

But McCrorie insists he is tough enough to handle the big occasion.

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"I think I'm developing great under the gaffer," he said. "I broke into the team last year but you can't learn from anybody better than Steven Gerrard. He was one of the best players of his generation.

"I see myself as a central midfielder now, that's where I've been playing mostly. I've not really been playing anywhere else recently. But wherever the gaffer plays me I'll try my best and we'll see how it goes.

"To be honest, I'd rather be thrown in at the deep end playing in the big games. That's how you are going to learn.

Ross McCrorie against Celtic

"The gaffer spoke to me at the beginning of the season, we talked about what position he sees me in and where he prefers me playing. Obviously I've been playing my best football in centre mid and that's where I've been playing recently, so that must be where the gaffer sees me in future.

"But it comes down to this - I'm a Rangers fan so I'd play anywhere for this club."

McCrorie came off the bench on Sunday to help Rangers see out the final stages of their Betfred Cup win at Kilmarnock.

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos at full time with the match ball
Image: Rangers beat Kilmarnock in the Betfred Cup

Rangers will now look to make it 10 games unbeaten under Gerrard when they face Russian side Ufa in the Europa League play-off first leg on Thursday. And McCrorie reckons that momentum can take his side far this term as they look to topple Brendan Rodgers' Celtic.

He said: "We play for Rangers so our expectations are to win everything. We've got off to a great start - it's probably the best start we've had for a few years. Now we'll see what happens on September 2 (when we face Celtic).

"The start we have got off to is unbelievable and hopefully it can continue. We mean business."

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