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Gers must set injury worries aside for Old Firm battle: Gerrard

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Late blow: Hibernian ace Darren McGregor wheels away in celebration after clinching a point at Ibrox
Late blow: Hibernian ace Darren McGregor wheels away in celebration after clinching a point at Ibrox

By Andy Newport

Steven Gerrard has challenged Rangers' walking wounded to fight through the pain barrier as they prepare to go to battle with Celtic.

The Ibrox boss was left frustrated as his injury-hit squad threw away two points to Hibernian as Darren McGregor's late equaliser snatched a 1-1 draw for Neil Lennon's side.

And there was further pain for Gerrard as he watched centre-back Connor Goldson become the latest addition to his list of casualty concerns ahead of Saturday's Old Firm crunch as he limped off midway through the second half.

The Light Blues manager is also sweating on the fitness of Scott Arfield, Gareth McAuley and Ryan Kent ahead of the visit of Brendan Rodgers' champions to Ibrox for the second derby clash of the season.

Left-back Borna Barisic has already been ruled out, but Gerrard now wants definite answers from the rest of his injury doubts quickly before he starts planning for the Hoops.

Asked how Goldson was, Gerrard said: "Sore. He's a big doubt. 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, 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 are no definite ins at the moment. Some people trained today and were okay. But there's still more checking to be done on the likes of Scott Arfield and Gareth McAuley.

"I'll know more tomorrow.

"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 play through a little bit of pain, especially the magnitude of the game that's coming up.

"We're 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, then fair enough. I understand, I'll respect the decision, but I need to know who's with me and who's not.

"I'm hoping a couple can pull through and we can maybe look a little stronger on paper than we did today."

Alfredo Morelos fired Gers ahead against Neil Lennon's Hibs with his 20th goal of the campaign midway through the first half.

But the Ibrox men were unable to build on their lead and let Celtic stretch their advantage at the top of the table to three points when McGregor planted a firm header home from Sean Mackie's cross four minutes from time.

"We've obviously led for the majority of the game and I think we shot ourselves in the foot by not killing the game off," added Gerrard.

The result was a boost for Hibs ahead of their own derby clash with Hearts this weekend, and Lurgan man Lennon - who has his own injury worry after Lewis Stevenson was forced off during the draw with Rangers - said: "It would be a confidence booster at any time.

"To come here with Rangers in a title race and take points off them is important.

"They played so well at Easter Road last week and we played really well here today. The level of performance was a lot better."

Belfast Telegraph


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