'We respect his decision' - Motherwell academy director Steven Hammell gutted as teen midfielder Bailey Rice joins Rangers

Motherwell academy director Steven Hammell has given his reaction after talented 15-year-old ’Well kid Bailey Rice – a Scotland youth international – left to sign for Rangers.

Bailey Rice has left Motherwell to join Rangers (Pic courtesy of Motherwell FC)
Bailey Rice has left Motherwell to join Rangers (Pic courtesy of Motherwell FC)

The teenage midfielder – who the Steelmen had hoped to sign on a professional contract – reportedly turned down an approach from the Gers’ Old Firm rivals Celtic in favour of joining up at Ibrox.

But, in a welcome boost for the Fir Parkers, at least they have announced the promotion of another nine proposed graduates to full-time.

"Although it’s disappointing to lose Bailey at this stage of his development, we respect his decision,” Hammell told the Motherwell website.

“On the flip side though, we are absolutely delighted that so many of the group we had earmarked for graduation into our professional set-up have placed their trust in us and the pathway we think we can provide to first-team football.

“We have already seen so many of them train and integrate with the first-team squad in the first week of pre-season and that’s something that should not only give them all encouragement, but additional hunger and desire to kick on.”

Rice’s switch to Ibrox will see him join up with the club’s under-18 side, managed by Cameron Campbell and Steven Smith.

Meanwhile, this weekend Motherwell are travelling to Austria for a pre-season tour running until Sunday, July 10.

They will take on Austrian Second League club SK Vorwarts Steyr at the BSFZ Obertraun complex on Friday, July 8 with kick-off at 4.30pm.