Alex Neil backs Greg Docherty to learn from Steven Gerrard at Rangers

Greg Docherty
Greg Docherty joined Rangers in January

Alex Neil believes Greg Docherty can become a "top player" under Steven Gerrard at Rangers.

The former Hamilton Academical manager handed Docherty, 21, his debut as a 17-year-old at New Douglas Park.

Former Liverpool and England captain and midfielder Gerrard, 37, will take charge as Rangers manager next month.

"Greg can only benefit from having somebody like that coaching him," said Preston North End boss Neil, 36.

"Hopefully it benefits Greg's game and he can go on and become a real top player.

"I think that what Steven will do there is he'll go in with vast experience, having played at the top, top level and played under really experienced managers and I'm sure he'll take away the bits that he's learned over his career and try and take the best bits and introduce them into how he's going to manage his players."

Docherty, who has made 14 appearances since joining Rangers in January, is one of three promising youngsters to have agreed moves away from Hamilton since the turn of the year, with defender Michael Devlin, 24, joining Aberdeen in January and midfielder Lewis Ferguson, 18, to join Devlin at Pittodrie this summer.

Hamilton have a reputation for producing young players in the Scottish game, with arguably their two most famous graduates, James McCarthy and James McArthur, now plying their trade in the Premier League for Everton and Crystal Palace, respectively.

Neil believes the strategy of investing in young talent has paid dividends for Accies.

"I think that's the culture of the club," he said. "What they've always done is bring players through and give them an opportunity and a chance. That's always served them well, that's what it was like when I was here.

"I was here for 10 years and that's the way they're going to continue their model. They've had great success doing it.

Alex Neil
Neil was speaking at the opening of the Cruyff Court at New Douglas Park

"If you look at Celtic and Rangers, the pressure is to win. Whereas when you're at Hamilton, you can have a longer term project of bringing kids through and giving them an opportunity.

"The game needs clubs like Hamilton and I think if more clubs did it this way, certainly with the lack of finances in Scotland, I think it is the way forward."

Neil guided Preston to seventh in this season's Championship, within touching distance of clinching a play-off spot.

"We know it's going to be a tough ask," Neil said of finishing higher next term.

"Our budget this season was the third bottom in the league, so I think we've done remarkably well to get where we've got to.

"However, I think every season you want to improve on the season before. So naturally, we finished seventh, and if we can improve on that next year, that will either take us into the play-offs or even better."