Murray praises Rangers youngsters

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The Rangers defender Ian Murray insists his side's 3-0 Scottish Premier League victory over Dundee United has confounded the critics who have decried the youth system at Ibrox.

Alex McLeish's side have struggled domestically all season and much of the criticism aimed at the SPL champions has been over the lack of young players coming through from the club's Murray Park training ground. However, for the visit of the Tannadice men, a squad undermined by injury and suspension meant that McLeish was forced to hand the teenager Alan Lowing his first SPL start at right-back and name the youngsters Gary McKenzie, Ross McCormack and Steven Campbell on the bench. Steven Smith also retained his place at left-back after starting the previous three games.

Rangers romped home thanks to goals by Thomas Buffel, Steven Thompson and Peter Lovenkrands, but Murray praised the new boys and Lowing in particular, who suffered a nervy first half against the Taysiders.

The former Hibernian captain said: "It's hard for full-backs, especially against pacy wingers like Collin Samuel and David Fernandez. But Alan settled down excellently.

"A lot was made a few months ago about no youngsters coming through at Rangers but over the couple of weeks there's a lot of players been given a chance and so far I think they've all taken them."

With the SPL title almost certainly out of their grasp, the Scottish Cup offers Rangers their last chance of silverware this season. After a third-round draw pairing Rangers with the Second Division side Peterhead at Ibrox, Murray is confident of making progress. "We've got a good tie," he said. "We can't ask for any more than a home game against lower league opposition."