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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Burley eyes Fleck for Dutch clash

Rangers forward John Fleck
Fleck locked horns with AC Milan stars in a recent glamour friendly at Ibrox

George Burley says he would have no problem making Rangers forward John Fleck the youngest Scotland international for 123 years.

The Scotland manager will assess Fleck, 17, in Sunday's Old Firm derby and could include him in his squad for next month's World Cup qualifier in Holland.

Burley said: "If he is performing well at Rangers, why not?

"I have always said that if you are good enough, you are old enough. I'm very excited about young John."

Fleck has only made five first-team appearances for the Ibrox club but has made such an impact that Burley is ready to fast-track him into the national team.

The teenager has scored one goal, the decisive penalty in Rangers' 2-0 victory over Dundee United at the end of January.

I'm very excited about young John

Scotland manager George Burley

Burley continued: "I've spoken to Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, about him a couple of times and he thinks he is going to be a really top-class player.

"With any young player, you have to assess it.

"Rangers will do that on a weekly basis, but there is no doubt he is an exceptional talent at 17.

"I have always said that if you are good enough, you are old enough, and that is something I'll be looking very closely at in the forthcoming months.

"I'll be going to the Old Firm game on Sunday."

Fleck's omission from the Under-21 squad last week caused controversy, with boss Billy Stark accused of ignoring the country's brightest young talent.

But Burley, who has a track record of putting his faith in youngsters during his time with Ipswich, Derby and Southampton, is ready to gamble on a player who appears equally adept in midfield or up front.

The Scotland boss said: "I had a number of young players who played regularly at 17 over my club career.

"As a club manager, I was never reluctant to push exceptional youngsters through if I thought it was right, and I am the same as the national manager.


"I was fortunate enough at 17 to make my debut against George Best for Ipswich against Manchester United in 1973.

"I think Barry Ferguson was 17 when he made his debut for Rangers.

"I think there are less coming through but if there is a Wayne Rooney you have to look at it carefully, and if they are performing well at the highest stage then you treat is as an individual case.

"Age doesn't matter. It is how you are performing on a weekly basis for your club and what level you are playing at. If you are doing exceptionally well, you have got a chance."

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