Martin McConnell from Youth Football Scotland casts his eye over Rangers forward Ryan Hardie in the latest SPFL Development League scouting report.
Rangers and Scotland youth striker Ryan Hardie has excelled for the club he has supported since his childhood in Stranraer. Having joined in 2010, he has progressed through the ranks and made his first-team debut in a 3-1 League Cup victory against Falkirk in September 2014.
Stuart McCall handed him a start against Dumbarton in April 2015 and he marked the occasion by scoring a brace, the first of which brought his side back level with the Sons. His second was a piece of class. Lee Wallace struck the ball into the penalty area and Ryan stuck out his foot and put the ball over his head, past the keeper and into the corner of the net.
Unfortunately for Hardie, with the Rangers strike force averaging almost three goals a game, it’s been incredibly difficult to make his mark on the first XI. He has made the bench 15 times this season, coming on as a substitute on three occasions. Of his five starts with the development side, has managed to score six goals.
Despite the lack of opportunities at present, Rangers boss Mark Warburton liked what he saw and gave the young striker a two-year contract extension until the summer of 2018.
Of his starts in the SPFL Development League, the performance against Hibernian back in October was a stand-out.
The young Rangers side started poorly but immediately from the second-half restart, Ryan came out with the bit between his teeth and ripped Hibs apart. Fraser Aird sent a magnificent ball through for the striker, cutting inside and sweeping past his marker - he then took the ball round the keeper before calmly slotting into the net.
The weather conditions were poor but there was more to come from Hardie. Another fantastic ball sliced through the Hibs defence for the striker to chase down - he won his battle with the defender and rolled the ball past the keeper from 12 yards.
His close control can be amazing and he has pace to burn. Any half-decent ball forward is a potential chance for him to run amok among a defence. He’s comfortable up front with a partner, but he’s also capable of playing as a lone striker. With his eye for goal, he’s certainly one to watch.
Key attributes - Acceleration, pace, finish, control, dribbling