Rangers' teenage star Wilson revels in a season that has exceeded all expectations
Thursday 22 April 2010
Rangers defender Danny Wilson is stunned and delighted he is set to end the season with two senior medals – admitting he would have been happy with just one substitute appearance.
Wilson, 18, has burst onto the scene this term, making 24 first-team appearances as Madjid Bougherra's understudy and helping the club win the CIS Cup. He is also on the brink of lifting the Scottish Premier League title, with Rangers able to seal the title on Sunday.
Wilson's performances earned him Rangers' Young Player of the Year award last Sunday, and he was also last week nominated for the equivalent prize by the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association.
He has been linked with a summer move to more than one Premier League club, with the chief executive Martin Bain recently revealing Liverpool had expressed an interest. It represents a meteoric rise for a player who was still in the youth team a year ago.
Wilson said: "I'm sure there will be a moment in the summer when I sit down and think about it and I will realise that I will be a double winner in my first season. At 18 years of age, that really is something special.
"My aim is to kick on and keep learning. I have had a few games in the first team now and I want to continue the way I am going and see how much I can do but I will take everything one step at a time. I'm not setting any high targets but I obviously want to achieve as much as I can.
"I'm delighted with the way the whole season has gone. I didn't expect to play that much but I got a couple of chances due to different circumstances.
"There are players like Flecky [John Fleck] and Andy Little who have been pushing to get in this season too and luckily I have managed to get quite a few games under my belt and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I would have been happy with a sub appearance or maybe a start in a cup tie but I have played [almost] 25 games now and that's so many more than I expected."
Wilson praised his more experienced team-mates for making his transition from youth to first-team football as smooth as possible. "I have had help from all of them and I don't want to single any of them out," he said.
Wilson is out of contract at the end of next season and the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, has reiterated his desire to see the teenager sign on. Smith said: "We hope that we can reach an agreement with him in terms of a new contract because everyone wants him to stay and we hope that he will do. Martin Bain has been doing his best to come up with something to find an agreement with him and hopefully he will do that."
Bougherra, who has endured an injury-hit season, applauded Wilson's performances and also urged him to stay. "When he came in and did well, I was so happy because it was less pressure on me to rush back from the injuries," the Algeria international said. "I hope he stays here for many years to come"
It has been a different story for another youngster across the city however as Josh Thompson is coming to terms with the highs and lows of being a Celtic defender.
The 19-year-old was signed from Stockport County by the former Celtic manager Tony Mowbray last summer with a view to the future. However, Thompson has been a regular partner to Darren O'Dea since the turn of the year due to injuries to Glenn Loovens, Jos Hooiveld and Thomas Rogne.
He picked up Celtic's Young Player of the Year Award on Sunday night but it has been far from easy for the Englishman, who has come in for plenty of criticism as Celtic's title hopes slipped away and their Scottish Cup ambitions were brought to a shock end at the semi-final stage by the First Division side Ross County.
"Centre-backs are more open to criticism when something goes wrong," Thompson said. "But football is a game of opinions and criticism and even if you play well there will always be someone who wants to pull you up for something. You learn to accept it. It's just part of the game so you have to get on with it. This season has been more than I expected. I never expected to play nearly as much as I have. But I'm more than happy to be playing, even in games that haven't gone our way. I just want to be involved. I feel I've improved a lot since I came in.
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