A product of the Glasgow club’s academy, King made his first-team debut aged 16 and played in the Champions League this season after injuries to key players left former manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst with no options at the back .
The 19-year-old centre-back has struggled to get playing time since Davies returned to fitness in the summer, but Beale believes this is just a case of the defender’s minutes on the pitch returning to mean, rather than as Criticism of the youngster’s progress.
“If you look at young Leon, he’s played the most minutes of any under-21 in the Champions League, but he’s played because of injuries – no Fil Helander, no John Souttar, no Connor Goldson, sometimes no Ben Davies,” said Beale observed.
“That really hurt the club in two competitions this season. It certainly hurt us in the Champions League and in the league.
“Since Ben Davies and Connor Goldson came back and played together, the team have put on a really strong performance.
“Leon trains really well every day but he’s a 19-year-old centre-back who plays for a club where the pressure, the expectations and the amount of media coverage are really high.
“He will have taken a lot from that experience and he has probably played a lot more this season than he expected. Now it’s probably midway where he thought it would be.
“He’s now sitting behind three fit, senior centre-backs and pushing them in training. He learns from them every day.
“He had his football in a very compressed period and probably would have wanted it over a period of time throughout the year. He is still one that we have high hopes for and are proud to have developed from the academy.”
Rangers host Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals this afternoon and King will be hoping for a chance to impress his manager. Beale expects the teenager to be there until the end of the season but the Englishman is understandably reluctant to give players any guarantees on their playing time.
“If he deserves it,” added Beale. “Like all. We try to value the shirt and if you have it, you have to keep it.”
https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/23380008.michael-beale-addresses-leon-kings-rangers-future/?ref=rss Michael Beale opens up on the future of Leon King’s Rangers