Rangers: manager Pedro Caixinha ready to rely on young prospect Ryan Hardie

Rangers striker Ryan Hardie
Rangers striker Ryan Hardie has made 11 first-team appearances for the Ibrox club, scoring twice

Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha says academy graduate Ryan Hardie will play a first-team role this season.

The 20-year-old striker has spent time on loan at Raith Rovers and St Mirren, but is now challenging for a place at Ibrox.

Hardie played the final 18 minutes in the 0-0 draw with Hearts last Saturday, and has scored twice already for the first-team.

"He is an option for us after Martyn [Waghorn] left," Caixinha told RangersTV.

"So we have Kenny Miller, we have Alfredo Morelos, we have Eduardo [Herrera]. And Ryan and Zak Rudden can be options for us."

Caixinha turned to the club's youth ranks last season, calling up David Bates, Myles Beerman, Aidan Wilson and Jamie Barjonas into the first team.

Hardie was called into the squad after an injury to Herrera, and Caixinha says he impressed with the Scotland Under-21 international's finishing ability.

"I met Ryan when we arrived last season later on when he came from the loan process," the Rangers manager said.

"I was told by our doctor, who likes him a lot, that he was a goalscorer, he is definitely a goalscorer, and when he has a chance he scores.

"We have no problem at all to place him on the pitch. With 20 minutes of the game left we felt that the team was putting Hearts against the ropes and we were needing more presence in the box. So we changed it.

"Last season we used a lot of players from the youth system and this season we are already using it, so that means of course that we use it if we have the need and we will use it if they have the quality to perform with us.

"It's always important to look at what we have inside the club."

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