Ness made his debut on the 26th December 2010 at Fir Park, Motherwell, one year after manager Walter Smith claimed the youngster was ready to make the breakthrough. Although Ness was known to the public, he wasn't given the hype of his team-mate and was allowed to progress naturally, without the eyes of the nation on him. The result? An exceptionally talented midfielder, likened - probably correctly - with the late 'Slim' Jim Baxter.
2 appearances for his club, numerous for the Scotland Under-19's and 17's. So what makes him so special? Why are his comparisons correct and the others not? 3 natural midfielders started in the recent Old Firm derby, only one received pass marks. Not the tireless Steve Davis, nor the physical Lee McCulloch - but Jamie Ness. The only player who looked capable of playing a pass, running with the ball and keeping possession over the 90 minutes was a 19 year old on his first start. From the first minutes, Ness demanded the ball and sprayed it around the pitch. Five yard passes, 50 yard passes - they all came natural to him. Unfazed by the occasion, Ness flourished, showing the ability to play in the middle that neither McCulloch or Davis has shown this season.
Rangers lost the game 2-0, goals from the usually flaccid Georgios Samaras, and the result left them 4 points adrift from their Old Firm rivals, albeit with 2 games in hand. If ever there was a need for the management to give youth a chance, now is it. The usual midfield partnerships of Steve Davis and Lee McCulloch/Maurice Edu are bearing no fruit, meanwhile two young midfielders have been handed opportunities, and given performances to be pleased with. Kyle Hutton and Jamie Ness are the future of the Rangers team. Hutton, a more defensive midfielder in my mind, was handed his full debut against Manchester United in the 1-0 loss at Ibrox in the Champions League, and on more than one occasion shrugged off Paul Scholes or Michael Carrick and skipped past them.
If there was ever a time to start both players, the upcoming Scottish Cup match v Kilmarnock should be that time. Kilmarnock are performing above expectations in the league this season and much of that has come from Alexey Eremenko and Ben Gordon (who has now returned to his Parent Club, Chelsea). Eremenko's presence is one that cannot be ignored, and this game will be won and lost in the midfield. Why not start what could be the strongest midfield pairing at the club?