One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Cole McKinnon finds himself on the right side of the mantra at the moment. At a time when the problems are mounting for Philippe Clement, McKinnon is providing a welcome solution.

At 21, McKinnon can be described as something of a late bloomer. Some may have previously written off his chances of making the grade at Ibrox but his patience and his perseverance have paid off. His appearances against Benfica and Hibernian may only have amounted to a total of 23 minutes of game time but they are significant milestones for McKinnon.

As more established members of Clement’s squad have fallen out of contention, McKinnon has risen to prominence. It is a case of needs must at present for Clement but that doesn’t mean that the Belgian will hand out places in the squad or time on the park on a whim. Every chance must be earned, and every chance must be taken.

McKinnon burst onto the scene under Giovanni van Bronckhorst as he scored on his debut at Tynecastle. That occasion was on the eve of Seville and a loan at Partick Thistle that was designed to take him closer to the first team at Ibrox was somewhat unfulfilling. Now, though, McKinnon has shown the importance of being in the right place at the right time.

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That was the case for the other Auchenhowie graduate that has progressed from the B Team this term. A shortage of wide players in the first weeks of Clement’s tenure allowed Ross McCausland the opportunity to catch the eye and continue the form he had shown under interim boss Steven Davis. The Northern Irishman has kicked on in impressive fashion and he is now the example that all of his peers are seeking to follow.

"It shows the belief [the manager] has,” McKinnon said of his recent involvement as part of Clement’s squad. “It was 2-2 at Benfica when I get on and it was only 1-0 here in an edgy game so it shows the belief he has in younger players. Not only myself but the rest of the players in the B Team, if they are working hard and doing well in training they are going to get those opportunities so I am looking forward to the rest of the season. It should be good.

"I signed my contract the exact same day as Ross, we have been together since we came in full-time so it is nice to see where he is now and hopefully I can follow the steps he has took and it is under the same manager. You can see the manager has his beliefs there and hopefully I can do the same as he has done.

“Definitely [I am hungry for more]. I am a Rangers fan and so if I wasn't there would be questions to be asked. So absolutely and I will keep on working hard and hopefully more chances will come."

Had Clement been dealt a different hand, there is every chance that McKinnon would not have been part of the plans at this stage of the season. He has proven himself mentally, tactically and technically to become a member of the first team group but he ticks another important box at present. As it stands, he is fit, ready and raring to go.

It was a case of one step forward but two steps back for Clement on Sunday evening. Rabbi Matondo returned to the squad and the side at Easter Road but the injuries to McCausland and Dujon Sterling were the black marks on the report card. Even after a fine 2-0 victory – earned thanks to goals in either half from John Lundstram and Fabio Silva – Clement could not be completely satisfied.

Attentions have now turned back to Benfica. Clement faces another selection headache as he targets European progression before a must-win Premiership fixture at Dens Park. McKinnon hopes he can help ease the worries of his boss and he will be ready if called upon.

"That is football,” McKinnon said. “Injuries happen and it is not nice when so many players... We are very unlucky with injuries this season but I need to step up now. It doesn't matter where on the park it is, if I need to fill in in goals I will. That's the type of player I am, I will play wherever I am needed.

"So hopefully I can keep on taking my chances if they come and just be humble about it. I am not getting too far ahead of myself. It is only the two appearances so I need to keep working hard in training every day and hopefully it will come.

"It was quite weird to be on the same pitch as [Benfica]. I am used to watching these players on the TV and now I am in amongst them. It is great. You can only take so much of it though, it is my job at the end of the day, you need to go in there and play, you can't be too star struck about it all. I loved it when I was in there, it was a great feeling."

The visit of Benfica promises to be a special occasion under the Ibrox floodlights. This is a tie that Clement insisted his side were not favourites to win but it has become one that they have every chance of emerging from after that fine performance and result in Lisbon.

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Rangers are short of numbers in the final third and are running on fumes in other areas. It will take a remarkable effort to record successive wins and ensure they head into the international break as European quarter-finalists and Premiership leaders. Clement will ask his stalwarts and those that are coming to the fore to dig deep for the cause.

"One in Europe and now we have progressed to the next round of the cup,” McKinnon said. "All the boys are looking forward to Hampden and now the focus is on Thursday. It will be a good game.

"He has been great with everyone. As soon as he came in the building there has been a change in mentality of the players and everyone is buying in to what he is trying to do. I know myself, especially, I feel a lot better working under him and he is making me a better player in lots of different ways.

"So I have really enjoyed working with him and I am thankful that I am there training and thankful that he has obviously given me those opportunities. It is down to bad reasons, a couple of injuries, but you need to take your opportunities when they come and I am looking forward to Thursday."