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THE walk from the youth department to the first team wing at Auchenhowie is only a few short steps. Nathan Patterson hopes many more can follow his path as he leads the way for Rangers.
At 19, the defender has most of his career ahead of him, but he has already achieved notable milestones as he has earned his place in Steven Gerrard’s squad and been rewarded with a long-term contract that signifies his past endeavours as well as his future potential.
Patterson is the example that his peers must look up to these days as he stands on the brink of Premiership title success with his boyhood heroes and looks to make the most of the opportunity he has to learn under Gerrard’s guidance.
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The Ibrox boss is keen to involve the best young players at the club as much as possible and he handed Leon King and Ciaran Dickson their debuts against Falkirk in November. The chances will be there, and it is up to the players to grab them.
“The Academy have a lot of good prospects right now and we are all on different journeys and at different places,” Patterson said. “We have all got great talent and we are all working hard to try and achieve whatever goals we are trying to achieve.
“It is great working under the gaffer. He achieved a lot in his career after starting out in the youths and working his way into the team. It just shows you that if you are willing to work hard then the opportunities will come for you.
“I think they try and integrate some of what the first team do into the Academy so that when you come round to the first team it doesn’t seem as big a jump and you don’t feel too much out of your comfort zone. It is roughly the same, but obviously when you come round the standard is a bit higher. It is up to you to meet that standard.
“They (the staff) are all good with you, they always make sure you are doing OK and during training everyone is always willing to help if you are having a bad day. It is great and everyone is together.”
Patterson may only have made a handful of appearances for Rangers this term but his emergence is heartening for the structure that produced him and the supporters that will back him.
A thriving academy system has to be central to Rangers going forward and the defender is confident those that share his ultimate ambition will benefit from the pathway that is in place between Auchenhowie and Ibrox.
Patterson said: “Obviously you need to be confident within yourself and always believe that you are a good player and that you have the ability to go on and do well at a club.
“This is a big club for me especially because it is the club that I support. It is just great to be involved at the club for many more years.
“The training every day is great, it is always at a high standard and even though I am not playing games there is always pressure there in training and you need to meet the standards.
“If you are not doing well, you know you are not doing well. So you need to make sure that you keep up your high standards and that will benefit you.
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“I wouldn’t say there has been one individual [that has been the biggest help to me]but there have been a good few and all the lads are willing to help. The likes of Scotty Arfield, Connor Goldson, Tav, they always make sure that you are OK and they are always up for a laugh as well to make sure that you are enjoying it. It is great and it is a good team.
“It would be great [to be involved in a title win]. Obviously it is a big club and we deserve to be at the top. It is a great team so hopefully we can go on and keep getting the wins and do that at the end of the season.”