Steven Gerrard has called on two of his own summer signings to improve their performances and their preparations off the field – Croatian duo Nikola Katic and Borna Barisic.
There’s been great confusion over the use of the two players this season.
Niko Katic appeared to form a solid defensive partnership with Connor Goldson at the beginning of the season. The duo were solid, conceding only nine times in the first 14 games and losing only once.
There have been calls to reinstate the Croatia cap after Joe Worrall’s Kilmarnock howler but Gerrard wants the Croatian to focus on improving. Speaking to the Evening Times, Gerrard laid his cards on the table.

Nikola Katic, 22, has only played four games since the end of September. (Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)
“Niko came in at first and performed really consistently and really well. He is a player who was brought in for now and for the future,” explains Gerrard.

“He had a couple of performances and certain situations happened which affected his confidence. It was my job to protect him and maybe take him out of the firing line at times.
“We brought him in because we believe he’s got potential to improve and grow and at some point become a nailed-down regular in this team but it’s never been promised to him.
“I did think he had a dip in his form and his confidence was affected. I do feel as though he’s over that now and he is pushing.”

What about Borna Barisic?

The situation surrounding Borna Barisic is one which most fans see as incredibly frustrating. This is an international level player for Croatia, who would bring immense balance to the side on the left.
We also have a lack of depth in that position. His settling into Ibrox hasn’t been helped by niggling injuries.
But there have been rumours aplenty that Barisic and Gerrard aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Gerrard insists he is just looking for the talented Croatian left back to beef up.

The talented Barisic has struggled with injuries since he joined Rangers. (Photo by Josef Bollwein/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)
“I think the challenge for Borna is to be a bit more robust and to be available a bit more,” said Gerrard. “I think it’s 12 games he’s been available for. From a manager’s point of view that’s quite frustrating as we rate him very highly and when you see him play you can see he’s a quality player.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s available from now until the end of the season and that we see his quality on a more consistent basis.”
Croatian duo Katic and Barisic joined Rangers in the summer for a combined £3m from Slaven Bepulo and NK Osijek respectively.
It certainly seems like they will have a big role to play in Steven Gerrard’s plans going forward.
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