Rangers manager Steven Gerrard will ask growing number of walking wounded to push through pain barrier in Old Firm derby
- Steven Gerrard watched his side fall three points behind Celtic this weekend
- There was further concerns when Connor Goldson hobbled off in second half
- He joins Gareth McAuley, Scott Arfield and Ryan Kent as doubts for Old Firm
- Gerrard said: ‘It’s a huge game, I need to know, who’s in and who’s not’
Steven Gerrard will ask his growing contingent of walking wounded to try and push through the pain barrier for Rangers in Saturday’s Old Firm derby.
The former England captain watched his side fall three points behind Celtic, having played a game more, as Darren McGregor’s late header cancelled out an Alfredo Morelos opener to earn Hibernian a 1-1 draw at Ibrox.
And there was further concern for Gerrard when Connor Goldson hobbled out of action in the second half.
Connor Goldson hobbled off and left Steven Gerrard with another injury concern
The £3 million signing joins fellow centre-back Gareth McAuley, midfielder Scott Arfield and winger Ryan Kent as a doubt for the crunch weekend visit of Brendan Rodgers’ champions.
With left-back Borna Barisic already ruled out, Gerrard hopes some will be able to go the extra mile and aid the derby cause.
‘Connor is a big doubt,’ admitted the Ibrox manager. ‘There’s a lot of ice flying about the dressing room at the moment.
‘I’ve just said to the players: “We’ve got two options here. We can feel sorry for ourselves and mope round and sit in silence – or we can regroup and pull ourselves together for 90 minutes of football coming up”.
‘It’s a huge game and I need to know in the next 24 hours who’s in and who’s not.
‘There’s five or six with ice on (after today’s game). I haven’t really had time to analyse them all individually.
Gerrard wants his players to dig in and push through the pain barrier next Saturday
‘There are no definite ‘ins’ at the moment (in terms of the other injuries).. Some people trained today and were OK. But there is still more checking to be done on Scott Arfield and Gareth McAuley.
‘Sometimes you have to dig deep into the reserves and play through it. If the injury doesn’t let you do that, tell me. Look me in the eye and say: “I can’t do it”. Then we’ll go with what we’ve got.
‘Sometimes you have to go into football matches and play through a little bit of pain, especially the magnitude of the game that’s coming up.
‘We are going to have 50,000 people here roaring us on so I need to know who’s on board and who’s not. If you’re not, fair enough. I understand, I’ll respect the decision, but I need to know who’s with me.
‘I’m hoping a couple can pull through and we can maybe look a little stronger on paper than we did today.’
Asked if Rangers now had to defeat Celtic to be considered a genuine threat in the title race, Gerrard added: ‘I’ve never, ever played in a derby that hasn’t been must-win. If we were sitting above Celtic right now, I’d be saying it’s must-win.
Darren McGregor’s late header saw Rangers let slip three points against Hibernian
‘So every game against Celtic is must-win. No-one should really ever ask a Rangers manager if an Old Firm game is must-win because you are only going to get one answer.’
The Ibrox side have drawn three of their last five Premiership matches, with Gerrard admitting frustration about a lack of cutting edge following Morelos’ 20th goal of the season.
‘Our creation was there today. We created enough to win the game. But in terms of the execution, of course it’s something I’m going to address in the coming months.
‘What we had out there I felt we were on our way to a scrappy win.
‘I don’t think we were at our fluent best. I’m not going to sit here and pretend we played amazing football today.
‘But we still got ourselves in a really healthy position, taking the lead. We’re at home and we were still creating chances.
‘But when you don’t take those chances or don’t have the quality to go kill a game off, sometimes that comes back to haunt you and that’s what’s happened.’