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Gers won’t look for excuses during busy schedule: Gerrard


By Gavin McCafferty

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has promised no excuses after his men made their domestic business even tougher by securing progress in Europe.

Gerrard stretched the unbeaten start to his managerial career to eight games after a goalless draw against Maribor set up a Europa League play-off against Russian side Ufa.

Rangers players were given yesterday off following their return from Slovenia and now face a difficult League Cup encounter tomorrow against former Liverpool coach Steve Clarke’s Kilmarnock side, who beat the Light Blues twice last season.

Results on Thursday also ensured Rangers will be 800 miles east of Moscow for the play-off second leg on August 30, two and a half days before they face Celtic in a lunchtime kick-off at Parkhead.

Gerrard said: “Confidence is growing and it’s just important we keep the momentum going. The schedule is tough but we knew that — the reward for doing well is more matches.

“The good thing is we can share the load, we have a decent-sized squad and the majority are healthy. We could do with a couple more bodies getting back from injury and if we could add to that before the window shuts it would be very helpful.

“It is what it is. You won’t hear any excuses. We realise it’s tough and will be a challenge but we just focus on the next game, against Kilmarnock in the Cup against Steve Clarke.

“He’s a very good manager who has his teams very organised and we know it’s a different surface. So we are faced straight away with another difficult challenge. For me it’s important I just keep the players focused on the next challenge and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Celtic also face a run of Thursday-Sunday matches after bowing out of the Champions League, although they are at home against Suduva immediately before the derby.

Defeat by AEK Athens also saw the Scottish champions miss out on a £30m-plus stream of income but Gerrard did not concern himself with their fortunes.

“The situation is to worry about us,” he said. “Our focus can’t be looking over the garden fence. We have to make sure we are moving forward. We are trying to build something that can compete domestically and do ourselves justice in Europe. Whatever happens at other clubs is their business.”

Gerrard offered no update on his pursuit of Kyle Lafferty following Hearts manager Craig Levein’s assertion that transfer talks were ongoing, while he reiterated his desire to see Alfredo Morelos offered an improved contract after Bordeaux failed with a £3.75m offer.

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