THE physical attributes and the tactical nous are undoubtedly important, but the mental resolve is what can make or break a Rangers player.

In his first months in the Ibrox first team, Ross McCrorie has already shown that he ticks the first two boxes. He has also gone some way to completing the hat-trick.

Eyebrows were raised when Pedro Caixinha lavished praise on the 19-year-old after he made his debut against Partick Thistle in September. In hindsight, it was one of the more reasonable statements the Portuguese came away with.

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McCrorie has made another 18 appearances for Rangers, and scored once, since that night at Firhill but his progress has stalled at the start of the New Year.

A foot injury sustained against Ross County has kept the defender out of action since the Old Firm game and his recovery time is measured in weeks rather than days at present.

It is a new situation for McCrorie but he has already shown that he has the personality to take it in his stride and emerge stronger at the other end.

Life at Ibrox can be too much to deal with for players that have plied their trade and showcased their talents at higher levels than McCrorie has ever appeared at to date.

But the boyhood supporter has handled the transition from Under-20 prospect to first team star with relative ease and considerable aplomb this season.

“When I was younger I used to look at the first team and wonder how I would cope at that level, but the club and Academy prepares us all the way through the age groups to cope with it,” McCrorie said.

“It’s more mental, especially when you’re playing in front of 50,000 supporters. That’s the hard part. it’s easy to play when there are no fans watching.

"I don't think it's just the mental skills coaching, it's when they take us abroad to play in different competitions in front of more fans.

“That gets you prepared for it especially when you play in Youth Cup and Glasgow Cup Finals at Hampden. That prepares you for it.

"The fans have been second to none - they have been brilliant with me, especially since I came in. When I made that mistake against Hamilton, they could have turned on me, but they never.

“They gave me support. Maybe it's just because I am a young player, I think it would be the same for any young player coming up.

“I think it was because I showed I didn't crumble in the game and showed them what I can do."

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McCrorie has had plenty to deal with, not least the sacking of the man who give him his chance at Ibrox, since he took his first steps in Light Blue last year.

But it was a moment in the defeat to Hamilton that showed what he is made of and told his manager, his team-mates and his supporters that he can suffer a setback and still move forward.

Just seconds after he had given the ball away inside his own half, David Templeton put it into the net as Accies took a shock lead. It was a blow that Rangers never recovered from as Martin Canning’s side clinched a history-making victory.

McCrorie showed no ill-effects of his lapse in concentration as he quickly gathered his composure and got back down to business.

And there has been no reason for Murty to question his frame of mind or his suitability for a starting spot since as he has become a firm favourite with the Ibrox crowd.

McCrorie said: "When it happened I just thought 'oh no' straight away. But when the game started again, you have just got to focus on the game.

“I was playing defence at that point so I was just focusing on no more goals getting conceded. I just had to try and move on to the next game, which was a Friday.

“Bruno Alves spoke to me on the Monday as well, which helped me quite a bit. He just told me to be confident for the next game.

“He told me he had done something similar for Porto and he said it happened to everyone. He told me to believe in myself and go out with a belief you are going to do well. That helped tremendously.

"I don't think it is just younger players. Everyone is going to make a mistake at some point.

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“I learned from that. It won't be the last, but hopefully it will be the last major mistake I will make."

McCrorie has barely put a foot wrong since that costly Ibrox defeat but he has been unable to help Rangers stride forward so far this year as he has been forced to watch on from the stands.

When he is fit enough to return to action, he will find January signings Sean Goss and Greg Docherty and the returning Andy Halliday providing added competition for a midfield starting spot.

At the back, Russell Martin has arrived and David Bates has impressed, while Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso are also still in contention for a jersey.

Few would bet against McCrorie overcoming that challenge but it is the fortunes of Murty’s side that are uppermost in his thoughts at present as Rangers attempt to build some much needed momentum this term.

“I’m helped by the fact I can play in a variety of positions, defence or midfield,” he said.

“I’m not too worried to be honest because competition for places is healthy for the team in the long run if we want to get to the next level.

“The gaffer has come in and done a great job and everything seems to be very positive, especially on the back of victories against the likes of Aberdeen before Christmas and then again last week. Result are going our way right now.

“The mindset and belief of the players has changed in the last few months. We believe in our ability and what we can do.

“He has brought freshness and maybe some of the players who have come in didn’t know him before. He has brought his own ideas to the team and we’re benefitting from it so far.”

*Ross McCrorie joined Craig Mulholland and Colin Stewart as the Rangers Youth Development Company handed over £250,000 to the Light Blues’ Academy.

Since 2002, RYDC profit has been directed to Rangers Football Club’s youth department and more than £7.5 million has been provided in the last 16 years.

This latest contribution – 12 months after their £175,000 donation – highlights RYDC’s commitment to assisting the youth programme.

Director of Operations Colin Stewart made the presentation at the training ground and the £250,000 raised is profit from their ongoing products which include Rangers Lotto, Rising Stars, Scratchcards, Stadium Bricks and The Youth Members Club.