Kelly is currently plying his trade under Hughes at Ross County on a season-long loan deal from their Scottish Premiership rivals Rangers.

 

It has been a topic of discussion among the Gers faithful over who will act as a long-term replacement for veteran midfielder Davis at Ibrox with him firmly in the twilight of his lengthy career.

 

 

Staggies boss Hughes is of the view that Kelly is capable of taking up the mantle from Davis, but stressed he might still have to go on loan spells to garner more first team experience.

 

Hughes added that Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is aware of Kelly’s qualities and feels the 20-year-old could even make into the Gers first-team with a strong pre-season under his belt in the summer.

 

 

“I mentioned him to Steven Gerrard after they beat us 5-0 at Ibrox”, Hughes told The Athletic.

 

“He asked how Stephen was doing and I said, ‘Very good. He’s a tidy, tidy footballer’.

 

 

“He knows that and is fully aware of what he’s got.

 

“He could slot in that [Davis] role but he may have to go on loan again.

 

“He may just need another six months in the Premiership, running the show, battle-hardened, and then Rangers have a massive decision to make.

 

“I’m being hypothetical. He may go back this summer after a year away, have a great pre-season and say, ‘This is mine’.

 

“I’ve seen that happen many a time. You go in and you’re playing with better players and it becomes easier.

 

“I hope it does. If anyone deserves it, it’s him.

 

“If it’s not Rangers and I’m in football, he’ll be one of the players I want at my club.”

 

Rangers boss Gerrard is likely to want to take a close look at Kelly over the course of pre-season in the summer.