Jason Holt enjoying title pressure at Rangers

Jason Holt
Jason Holt

Jason Holt believes his young Rangers colleagues are having to grow up fast under the pressure of the Ladbrokes Championship title race.

But the midfielder feels the stresses and strains of trying to beat Hibernian to the second-tier flag will only help Mark Warburton’s fresh-faced recruits mature.

The Englishman has shaved seven years off the average age of the Ibrox squad since taking over in the summer.

But that means the likes of 18-year-old Gedion Zelalem, Nathan Oduwa - only a year older - and 20-year-olds Dominic Ball and Barrie McKay are having to shoulder some serious responsibility while they also find their feet at first-team level.

Former Hearts youth product Holt - who at 22 is among Gers’ senior players - said: “There are a few boys that are still really young, but we are in it together as a squad and we will be looking to help each other out as much as we can.

“There is a lot of pressure, but it can only help the young players that they are getting this experience so young in terms of helping them to grow up quicker.”

Warburton picked out on-loan Arsenal midfielder Zelalem for praise last week despite the United States Under-23 international enduring a difficult afternoon during last week’s 2-2 draw with Morton.

He was substituted with half an hour remaining after allowing a series of passes to go astray but his manager hailed the youngster after he refused to shy away from the task of dictating play.

The slender teenager is rated highly by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger but at times during his Rangers stint he has been out-muscled while going head-to-head with combative opponents.

Holt, though, is certain the loan recruit will flourish in future.

“Gedion is definitely the type of character who will bounce back quickly,” he said. “It’s down to the rest of us players to rally round him. We all help each other both on and off the park.

“He’s been brilliant for us so far. He’s only 18, so he’s still really young. Since the first day he arrived here, you could see his quality. As a team we’re always looking to help and encourage each other.

“Gedion still has a lot of time to develop so I don’t think (aggression and physicality) is an issue for him.”

Warburton’s Championship leaders kick-off a crucial nine-day period on Saturday as they travel to Falkirk.

The third-placed Bairns will provide stiff opposition for Gers ahead of their top-of-the-table duel with Hibs on December 28.

Holt said: “The standards we set every week are so high that we want to win every game, and when we don’t it is really disappointing.

“But we’ll focus on ourselves and this weekend is no different. All the boys are just really looking forward to the game on Saturday and putting it right both performance and result wise.

“We won’t change how we play. Teams will try to make it difficult for us but it’s up to us to break them down.”