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Gerrard: Victory would put Rangers' Progres nightmare to bed

 

Tough memories: James Tavernier is one of just four Rangers players remaining from the side embarrassed by Progres two years ago
Tough memories: James Tavernier is one of just four Rangers players remaining from the side embarrassed by Progres two years ago

By Andy Newport

Steven Gerrard admits he may never get over his lowest days in football - but he has urged Rangers skipper James Tavernier to grasp his chance to right the wrongs of his Progres Niederkorn humiliation.

The right-back is among just four survivors of that mortifying Europa League upset two years ago still involved at Ibrox.

But he will have his shot at revenge on the minnows from Luxembourg as the teams prepare to do battle all over again tonight in the second qualifying round of this year's competition.

It is the kind of opportunity Gerrard would have wished for.

From his infamous 2014 slip against Chelsea that cost his Liverpool side the Premier League to the numerous disappointments with England at major tournaments, the Rangers boss has his fair share of regrets.

And for that reason he has urged his captain to drive Rangers on and wipe out the memories still that continue to sting two years down the line.

"I read an article that James had done in the last couple of days and you can tell in his words that there's still a feeling lingering for him," he said.

"If he uses that to put in a top performance for us it would be beneficial for everyone.

"When I look back on my own career, I had a lot of highs but also a lot of cruel lows in there too. Unfortunately they don't go away and I'm sure they will stay with me until the day I go.

"But fortunately for James he's got the opportunity to right a wrong with his own memories and feelings from a couple of years ago.

"I expect James to put a good performance in and to drive his team forward going into the second leg."

Rangers yesterday rubber-stamped Kyle Lafferty's exit from the club less than a year after signing the Northern Ireland striker from Hearts.

"Rangers can today confirm that Kyle Lafferty's contract has been terminated by mutual consent," read a brief statement.

"The 31-year-old returned to Ibrox for a second spell last summer and made 30 appearances under Steven Gerrard during 2018-19, scoring six goals.

"Kyle leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club for his future career."

Gerrard, meanwhile, knows it is not only the players remaining from that 2017 disaster - Tavernier, Wes Foderingham, Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos - who still bristle at the mention of Progres' name.

The Ibrox faithful reacted with fury to the result, letting then manager Pedro Caixinha know their feelings amid farcical post-match scenes as he tried to explain away the performance while standing in a bush.

Caixinha's successor has spent the last few days pouring over the reaction to Niederkorn's shock win and knows what victory would mean for the fans.

Gerrard said: "It is a chance to show how far Rangers have moved on.

"Now that I am a part of it, you do your background and look back on previous successes and failures and it's always nice to be in a position to put a wrong right.

"A lot of people were hurt the last time we played this opposition.

"I look back at the pictures and read the headlines and articles that were written about our club at that time and it's now mine, my staff and my players' opportunity to put a better feeling around the club.

"When I was a player I didn't really care about who I was playing against. It was more about who I was representing.

"When you work for institutions like Liverpool and Rangers it's about what you're going to give for the badge that you're wearing rather than worrying about what's in front of you.

"You've got to have standards and a hunger to play for these clubs. I expect the players to go out tomorrow and be really hungry and aggressive and try to get this job done as quick as we can."

Rangers

Progres

Europa League Qualifying Round Two, 1st Leg

Ibrox, Tonight, 7.45pm

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