Rangers will give it their best shot against any European giant – Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard admits Rangers may not yet be ready to topple Europe’s elite – but they are willing to give it a go.
The Ibrox boss watched his team repeat their Lisbon mistakes on Thursday night as they threw away a two-goal lead against Benfica for the second time in three weeks and were forced to settle for another draw with the Portuguese giants.
It was another reminder for Gerrard’s team that they cannot afford to switch off for a moment against the continent’s top sides in the Europa League.
Rangers remain on course for the last 32, however, and a victory when Standard Liege visit Glasgow next week will ensure their place in the knockout rounds.
That could yet tee up a clash with one of European football’s biggest clubs and Gerrard knows his side will likely be cast as the underdogs.
But he is also proud to say that his unbeaten squad never shy away from a fight.
“What I would say is this group of players is very honest,” said the Light Blues boss. “They are a great group and whatever challenge they are presented with, they will go and give it their best shot – that’s for sure.
“Their attitude and application I’ve been very proud of since the beginning of the season.
“In terms of facing anyone in Europe at the moment, I think it’s a bit ambitious to say that.
“We are still a group in an evolution, trying to improve. But without a doubt, they will take any challenge on.”
Rangers looked to have booked qualification with two games to spare when Kemar Roofe fired them 2-0 up on Thursday.
It was another breathtaking strike from the Englishman to go with his 55-yard stunner against Liege in Belgium.
The former Anderlecht and Leeds star now has seven goals in just eight starts for his new club and his boss believes the 27-year-old is closing in on peak fitness levels after a calf injury disrupted his Ibrox initiation period.
Gerrard, who takes his team to Falkirk on Sunday for their Betfred Cup opener, said: “Kemar is repeating training sessions now and he is available for games. He’s got no niggles, pains or disruptions to his training.
“I think you can see signs he is getting close to his best. He looked dangerous throughout Thursday’s game and scored a fantastic goal. We are really pleased with him at the moment.
“Now he has played quite a few games on the spin, we need to be sensible with Kemar for the weekend. We will make that decision in the coming days.
“But we need to keep him fit for big games domestically because he is going to be a big help to the squad.”