RANGERS have confirmed that nine of their academy players have joined the club on a full-time basis.

Goalkeeper Jack McConnell, defenders Jack Harkness, Harley Ewen and Kelsey Ewen, midfielders Mackenzie Strachan, Darren McInally, Connor Allan and Leyton Dunlop and forward Robbie Ure have all agreed professional deals for the first time.

Seven of the players are Scottish internationalists, while eight of them featured for Gers at the prestigious Alkaas tournament earlier this year.

Head of Academy Craig Mulholland commented: “We are delighted to welcome all of these young, talented men into our professional Academy having progressed through the schoolboy programme.

“The numbers are slightly higher than our normal intake which is representative of the quality of this group, the number of internationals it contains, the demand elsewhere for their signatures and the potential we believe these lads have.

“Obtaining a contract at Rangers is no easy task and joining a club like this, with the education programme that now awaits them, is something they must celebrate, relish and embrace – it is a fabulous achievement, with lots of hard work ahead.

“I would like to congratulate Alan Boyd and his team in the Children’s Academy, Mark Spalding and his team in the Intermediate Academy and Brian Gilmour and Neil Mackintosh for their work at Boclair Academy, where many of these lads attended.  To produce such a diverse, well-educated and talented group is credit to all of the Academy staff who have played a role in their development.

“This group are the first group to come through our elite school programme at Boclair Academy from 1st year to 4th year, participating in four years of education with almost 18 hours of football contact time per-week.

“This is reflected in the level of player, and importantly person, that the coaches in the Professional Academy will now get to mould and shape and, four years on, demonstrates why we took the significant and innovative step of creating the Boclair programme.

“I would like to congratulate all of the boys and their families again on their achievement in reaching this significant milestone and wish them well on this new journey which will be full of highs and lows, excitement and challenge and certainly a few speed bumps along the way.”