NATHAN PATTERSON has returned from Lyon having coming through terrific tests against Lyon and Nice with flying colours.
Patterson, still only 18, was exposed to senior professionals from the very top level of the game for the first time in his fledgling career – Nice having finished fifth in last season’s Ligue 1, while Lyon are still in the Champions League and lead Juventus 1-0 after the first-leg of their Last 16 tie.
But Rangers too, have players of a high-quality – and working with them, as he did on the pitch at Trophee Veolia over the last few days and also in training on a daily basis, he believes, can only be to his benefit.
"It has been great ,” he began, “and I am delighted to be a part of the squad and to train with top, experienced players - it's just going to make me a better player all-in and put me in good stead for the rest of the season.
"I have been exposed to the first team quite a bit now having trained with them quite a bit last year.
"So I'm used to it, but it's a big step-up in terms of physicality and all departments really."
Having Rangers captain James Tavernier playing his own-right back position gives Patterson the perfect role-model as he looks to force his way ever-further forward in boss Steven Gerrard’s thoughts.
Every player in the squad has made Patterson so welcome, but it’s a man from the midfield whom he’s singled-out as having a particularly strong influence on him around the first-team.
"Scott Arfield has been great with me,” he continued. “He has taken me under his wing and keeps you right and keeps your head - even when you're having a bad day.
"It's great being able to speak [to Tavernier] too and to be able to watch him from the side of the pitch to see what he does and how he acts and reacts with the other players and then I try to take that into my own game to improve.
"Training with top players and gaining experience with them every day is going to make you a better player.
"You just need to keep trying to improve your game to make you the best you can be."
Patterson has enjoyed and benefitted from years of intensive work on so many aspects of football as he has made his way through the Rangers Academy.
One part of a player’s development which perhaps isn’t often focussed on by those outside the club as much as it should is their mental skills, and being able to handle the step to a first-team environment.
Patterson pointed to the work of mental skills coach Don MacNaughton, who works closely with the Rangers Academy for tuning that aspect of his game, and explained: "At the first-team, you have high demands on you and if you don't play well, you need to have the mental strength to just keep going.
"The Rangers Academy is a great academy and it is producing some great players and I want to be another one that is a top prospect."
Patterson will take plenty away from his time in Lyon, not least playing in an incredibly youthful back-four against arguably Lyon’s strongest team in the closing stages of Gers’ 2-0 win over them on Thursday.
Not only that, the Light Blues finished that game with nine men – with Patterson, 20 year-old Lewis Mayo, 22 year-old Ross McCrorie and 20 year-old Calvin Bassey all impressing to keep the back door shut.
Patterson added: "It was a great experience, and of course, coming up against top players, you are going to have to change your game a little bit, especially when we went down to nine men at one point.
"It was all about keeping that clean sheet and defending our goal. Playing against top players at youth level, it is going to put you in good stead when you go away with the first-team and you're getting exposed to playing against players that you're not used to playing against."
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH PATTERSON HERE
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