Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has singled out a pair of his first-team players for praise following Champions League defeat to Malmo – and laid down a marker to “six or seven”.
Gerrard cut a frustrated if not alert figure speaking to RangersTV post-match, the reaction to Steven Davis’ last-minute goal clearly still at the forefront of his thinking.
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The Ibrox gaffer described Davo’s strike as a “big moment” and the Ulsterman was praised by Gerrard alongside Swedish defender Filip Helander.
Both players were described as “magnificent” with Helander said to be performing at a “Champions League” level.
“We had two magnificent performances tonight,” said Gerrard [RangersTV].
“Fil Helander, I thought played at a Champions League level, I thought he was outstanding.
“And Steven Davis, I’m running out of plaudits for Davo he’s someone who doesn’t give up and keeps going to the end and he’s provided a real big moment that’s given us an important lifeline.”
Whilst Gerrard admitted that he doesn’t believe Rangers “deserved” to lose 2-0, the praise of the rest of his team was not so forthcoming.
Rangers are certainly stretched heading into these qualifiers with five first-team players in Ryan Jack, Joe Aribo, Alfredo Morelos, Kemar Roofe and Glen Kamara missing for a myriad of reasons.
Gerrard admits that he wants to have bodies back in the squad but for those who played a part, the Ibrox manager has made it clear that they need to raise their level.
“We need to get some bodies back,” said Gerrard.
“I think you can see we’re very young in terms of the bench and we didn’t have many options behind us.
“Fashion came on and made a difference, I thought when we went two up front and pinned their centre-halves back it made a big difference.
“At the weekend I’m hoping to have Aribo, Kamara, Roofe available, Balogun, obviously big Jon comes back into the thinking.
“We’ll be a lot stronger in terms of the squad and we’ll need to be and we’ll need to perform better.
“I’ve just said to the boys in there, there’s six or seven that need to raise their level, and raise it sharply.”
Steven Gerrard was clearly pulling no punches after the defeat to Malmo and the match is neatly poised heading into next weekend.
The man who helped drag the Gers into this slightly more advantageous position has also been receiving the plaudits of the Ibrox supporters.