Warburton urges loan Rangers to learn from Barrie.
Byline: | Iain King
Mark Warburton has told his loan Rangers to use their time away to win their spurs at Ibrox - just like Barrie McKay.
Scotland star McKay, unfancied and unwanted in Ally McCoist's time at the club, spent half a season with Morton and the guts of an entire campaign at Raith Rovers.
He seemed destined for the exit door but Warburton revived his fortunes.
Now at 21 McKay - with a new contract signed that keeps him at the club until May 2018 - is an established first-team favourite.
The Gers gaffer wants to see gifted midfielder Jordan Thompson, who is at Raith working under Gary Locke, and ex-Ibrox hero Alex Rae's loan double act at St Mirren - Tom Walsh and Ryan Hardie - prove themselves.
Warburton, who is also keeping tabs on kid keeper Liam Kelly who is on loan at Livingston, said: "I had a blank canvas with all of them when I arrived, Barrie McKay included.
"He turned up on the first day and within 30 minutes I thought we had a player. He was athletic, technically gifted and had a good attitude.
"I couldn't comment on how he was here before we came, I just know he returned hungry from his loan spells."
Warburton has thrown down the gauntlet to 19-year-old Thompson who showed fleeting glimpses of his class in a stint at League One Airdrieonians last season before accepting the Kirkcaldy deal this time around.
The former Manchester United Academy player, who grew up alongside the likes of England prodigy Marcus Rashford, starred in Raith's excellent opening 2-0 win at Ayr United. And Warburton revealed: "Jordan played 90 minutes for Raith. He loved it and he was buzzing when he came back here on Monday.
"Those type of loans can only benefit the players.
"Jordan going to Raith and playing those type of games in the Championship is about showing he can deal with it all, play consistently and cope with the highs and the adversity and come back here a better player.
"If you go to a club a division down and you're not playing, how are you hoping to get a game here.
"That's a harsh reality. To start in our midfield Jordan has to be better than Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar, Andy Halliday, Jason Holt, Josh Windass and Jordan Rossiter, the England Under-19 skipper. That's the challenge."
As he sat inside Murray Park ahead of yesterday's win at Dundee, the manager was philosophical about the criticism of his tactics and his formation in the draw with Accies.
One hot topic amongst the Ibrox legions has been the option of moving last season's 15-goal right-back James Tavernier into a midfield slot.
That's NOT an option for the manager who said: "That debate has not been going on inside Rangers.
"Tavernier proves the best form of defence is attack. People say he is vulnerable one v one and that he is aerially weak.
"Well, I feel he has worked on both those aspects now.
" He can play 90 minutes then do the same again, he's a supreme athlete. We are lucky to have him. "
CHALLENGE Warburton has been frank with kids