By Joe Brewin
Kyle Bartley is delighted that his efforts at Rangers last season have been rewarded this summer.
The young centre back enjoyed a successful campaign at Ibrox, playing 21 times as the troubled club finished second in the Scottish Premier League.
Bartley was officially promoted to Arsène Wenger’s first-team squad for the tour of Asia after impressing in the SPL and the 21-year-old wants to maintain his upward curve in the new season.
“It was a big honour and a privilege to come back and be part of the first team,” Bartley told Arsenal.com. “Just being in and around the dressing room is great and I have to thank the boss for that. Now I want to push on from here.
“It has been good so far and great to get away with the first team on tour. It's been nice to get a bit of game time with them to try and get my sharpness back.
“I just tried to give 100 per cent in every game I played. I just had to stick to the gameplan and play how I normally do - hopefully I have done well.”
Rangers’ financial plight saw them finish 20 points behind champions Celtic after receiving a 10-point deduction for entering administration.
The Ibrox club will spend next season in the Third Division after Charles Green’s newco Rangers saw their SPL application turned down. Bartley was in Scotland during some tough times but insists the experience will make him stronger.
“It was a massive experience for me because I managed to play 20-odd games once I got my fitness back here,” he said. “I had a hernia operation at the start of the season, which was disappointing. Obviously there were a lot of ups and downs, which can only benefit me in the long run.
“I don't think the off-the-pitch matters really affected me but for some of the players it did. For some of them it is their hometown club and I think they were a little bit worried about their futures.
“For me it was a little bit easier because I knew I was coming back to Arsenal. But for the team it definitely affected them.
“Rangers are a massive club and last season they still had an average attendance of about 46,000. That can only benefit a player like me. I just learned that I had to keep giving 100 per cent and to try and not to let outside matters affect me.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source