Rangers youngster Josh McPake has hailed Nathan Patterson an inspiration to fellow academy players as the winger targets his first team breakthrough.
Coatbridge star McPake is currently on loan at English League Two side Harrogate Town and is set to play at Wembley on Monday in the FA Trophy final.
He will return to Ibrox in the summer looking to make his way into Steven Gerrard’s first team squad, just like Patterson, who came through the ranks at the club’s academy.
Patterson has burst onto the scene this season at right-back when standing in for club captain James Tavernier, who suffered a knee injury in February, and played his part in the club’s first league title in a decade.
And McPake – who made his first-team debut for Rangers in July 2019 as a substitute appearance against St Joseph’s in a Europa League qualifier – says the defender is an inspiration for all the young talent on the books.
Speaking to the Rangers website, the 19-year-old said: : “Nathan has had a brilliant season. When Tav got injured he came into the team and started a few games and he has looked really good.
“Tav’s goals and assist are incredible and Nathan can learn from him too. When he has played, even in the recent Old Firm game at Ibrox, he looked the part and I am so pleased for him.
“It is always great to see Academy players getting a chance in the first team.
“I, and other players at the club, can take inspiration from Nathan and what he has achieved.
“It is great to see one of your mates, and a player who I have played with since I joined Rangers, working hard, progressing so well and now being a full-time member of the first-team squad.
“I joined Rangers from Hibs when I was 14 and I have loved my time at the Rangers Academy. I won the reserve league, the cup and the 18s league and Academy player of the Year at Rangers in 2018/19 and they have always taken very good care of me. I owe them for sure.
“To see players like Nathan getting a chance in the first team is great for everyone.
“It was also great to see Rangers win the league. They have done so well this season and I have watched all the games.
“The team has played some great football this season and I have enjoyed watching Ryan Kent. He plays on the left like me so it is good to watch how he plays and try and pick up some tips.”
McPake started the season on loan at Morton, but in January he moved down south for further development and he has been pleased with what he has achieved, keeping the club in League Two and earning a place in the FA Trophy final.
Now he hopes to take all he has learned and use it to push him on at Rangers.
He added: “I think I have done really well down here but I want to return flying for pre-season with Rangers and take it from there.
“Another loan might be an option and I will see what the club thinks is best for my development.
“Billy Kirkwood, the Rangers Loans Manager, has been in touch with me almost every day to check on me.
“He is always texting and phoning me to check on how I am and it is good to have someone like that checking on me daily. The club are really good at that.
“I feel I have become more confident as a player and to play every week, make an impact and score a few goals has been good for my development.
“I couldn’t have asked for more to be honest.”
McPake is aiming to round off his spell with Town in style with some silverware when his side face Concord Rangers at Wembley in a final postponed from last season due to the pandemic.
“I have this cup final at Wembley and I can’t wait to play there,” said McPake, who has scored four goals in 23 appearances.
“It will be amazing to play at such a famous stadium and it would be great for the Harrogate Town supporters if we could win it for them.
“It will be strange to play with no fans at such a big stadium. The club had hoped to change the date and get fans in but it couldn’t be moved so I was a bit gutted about that. It would have been some experience to play in front of a crowd at Wembley but we will do all we can to try and get a positive result.
“I moved here in January after being at Morton for the first half of the season and I have loved the experience.
“I have definitely grown as a person during this loan spell. This is the first time I have moved away from home so this experience has helped me a lot.
“The club have really looked after me, they have been brilliant with me since I joined to be honest and are always asking if they can do anything to help me and check on how I am doing each day.
I have enjoyed the physicality and speed of the game down here, it suits my game and the move has worked out really well.
“The standard of football has been really good and there are a lot of good players in this league. Playing regular competitive games has been important and I was ready to go on loan. It has definitely been the right decision.
“The fans have really taken to me and I have had a lot of supportive comments on Twitter. I think I am getting a statue built down here!”