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Celtic tormentor Ryan Kent not certain to play in Old Firm derby, says Rangers boss Gerrard



Selection dilemma: Rangers boss Steven Gerrard with Ryan Kent

Selection dilemma: Rangers boss Steven Gerrard with Ryan Kent

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Selection dilemma: Rangers boss Steven Gerrard with Ryan Kent

Steven Gerrard has warned Old Firm specialist Ryan Kent he will not let sentiment sway him as he prepares to pick his Rangers line-up for tomorrow's derby clash with Celtic.

Former Liverpool ace Kent started the season on fire but his productivity has slipped in recent weeks and he found himself on the bench for Wednesday's 2-0 win at St Mirren.

Ianis Hagi took his slot on the left and added an assist for Kemar Roofe's opener to the two goals he scored against St Johnstone and Hibernian.

Alfredo Morelos was also back in the starting XI to score his first league goal since September, leaving Gerrard to admit he has a selection dilemma as he looks to name a side which will extend Gers' 16-point lead over Neil Lennon's Hoops.

Kent has saved his best displays for the showdowns with the Parkhead side. He tormented Mikael Lustig before laying on Ryan Jack's winner in the corresponding fixture to this weekend's clash back in 2018, while he has twice netted at Celtic Park.

But Gerrard says he is only interested in current form.

"Yes (I've got a selection dilemma), but I've had a selection dilemma since the first game of the season," said the Ibrox boss.

"We've got good players all fighting for positions. There are good players not getting on the pitch who have been doing well.

"That's the squad you need at Rangers. My job is to pick the team. I don't pick it on sentiment, I pick it on players I think will get the job done.

"I've got tough decisions to make at the weekend but I'm not the first Rangers manager to have tough decisions going into an Old Firm match."

Gerrard will have a slightly easier time picking his midfield trio after injuries ruled Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield out of this weekend's Ibrox head-to-head.

Steven Davis, Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo are likely to be the men tasked with setting the platform for victory, with Bongani Zungu there as an option when legs tire.

But Gerrard insists he has full faith in the South African - who has started just three games - to play a part if required.

He said: "I made it quite clear that it was important we got someone in the door before the window shut.

"Getting Bongani up to speed was the priority because over the course of the season, with the schedule we have, we were always going to get a knock or two.

"Joe Aribo getting back up to speed and back to form as quick as he has is a real positive.

"I thought both him and Glen Kamara were superb against St Mirren. Steven Davis, aside from one or two moments early on, again showed why he is so important to us as well."

Gers avenged their only defeat of the season as they claimed a 2-0 win in Paisley just a fortnight after being dumped out of the Betfred Cup there.

"I judge my players over the course of a season, not just on the one game," Gerrard said.

"Everyone has an off night. I took responsibility for that defeat because the team we picked, the way we played - everything was on me.

"But if you judge my players from the start of the season until now, I think it's unjustified to question their mentality."

Belfast Telegraph

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