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Ross County land young Rangers' talent on loan


By Alasdair Fraser

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Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell welcomes new signing Stephen Kelly. Picture: Ken Macpherson.
Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell welcomes new signing Stephen Kelly. Picture: Ken Macpherson.

ROSS County tonight snapped up talented Rangers youngster Stephen Kelly on a season-long loan.

The highly-rated 20-year-old midfielder proved one of the Championship’s stand-out performers last season, making 27 league and six cup appearances for Ayr United.

He also hit six goals for the Honest Men, with four coming in an eight-game purple patch early in the campaign.

Kelly’s forward-thinking central midfield influence at Ayr belied his tender years, with his energy, range of passing and prowess in dead ball situations winning him many admirers.

At the end of May, those performances earned him Ayr’s young player of the year award, voted for by the fans.

Having signed a three-year Gers’ deal in summer 2018, Kelly still has one year left on his Ibrox contract.

But he now has a glorious chance to make his mark in Scotland’s top-flight after becoming the Staggies’ first signing of the close season.

Ironically, Kelly helped inflict a serious blow on the Staggies in January last term when he helped Ian McCall’s side knock the Premiership side out of the Scottish Cup at Somerset Park.

Stephen Kelly joins County. Picture: Ken Macpherson, Inverness.
Stephen Kelly joins County. Picture: Ken Macpherson, Inverness.

County manager Stuart Kettlewell was clearly excited by the capture.

He said: “Stephen has some great attributes.

“We feel those will compliment what we have and help us build our Premiership squad for the upcoming campaign.

“Having spent last season on-loan at Ayr, Stephen has been involved in some really competitive football which we hope will help him in his spell with us.

“We have been aware of Stephen for some time and managed to keep track on his progress.

“He is a young player at only 20 years old, but a player that has been very open in his desire to really push himself and continue to develop and grow, which we hope he can do here in Dingwall.”

Kelly, capped by Scotland at under 16, 18 and 19 levels while coming through the Ibrox youth ranks, made his debut for Rangers in the League Cup in late September 2018, coming off the bench in a 4-0 win against Ayr.


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