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Kyle will flourish under pressure, maintains Gers chief


By Gavin McCafferty

Steven Gerrard believes the experience of "Rangers nut" Kyle Lafferty will be a vital addition to his squad as the striker completed his move from Hearts.

Lafferty has signed a two-year contract after moving for an undisclosed fee and Gerrard confirmed he would be involved in tonight's Europa League play-off first leg against Russian side Ufa.

The Northern Ireland international spent four years at Ibrox, hitting 38 goals and lifting three league titles before leaving after Rangers went into liquidation in 2012.

And Gerrard is keen to harness Lafferty's experience of winning trophies in a Rangers shirt.

"That's the key, that's vital to us," the Ibrox boss said. "He knows what this club is about. There is no risk in terms of him performing in front of the demands of this crowd and this club, and the expectation.

"We're a young squad so he brings vital experience. He's a Rangers nut, he is desperate to come, and I think he ticks all the boxes that I'm looking for, what I want from a frontman. We know we are quite bare up there without him."

The 30-year-old has played for Sion, Palermo and Norwich among others since leaving Ibrox, and scored 19 goals last season for Hearts, where he enjoyed his time on and off the park after crediting the club with helping him fight a gambling problem. And Gerrard is pleased to welcome a more mature but still edgy player.

"I was raw, I was inexperienced and I made similar mistakes, and I got over-excited," the former Liverpool captain said. "I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I love that in a footballer.

"Of course, we want to channel it in the right direction, but I think with age and maturity I calmed down and simmered a bit, but at the same time still tried to play on the edge, and I think that's where top performances and important performances come."

Meanwhile, Ufa boss Sergei Tomarov played down his side's visa worries as he insisted the Russians are fully focused on halting Rangers.

It was reported over the weekend that Tomarov's men feared they might be kicked out of the Europa League.

Delays in securing the required paperwork needed to enter the UK ahead of tonight's play-off first leg at Ibrox left them sweating on their place in the competition.

However, disaster was averted on Monday when Ufa got the seal of approval from the UK government - but only after Tomarov and his squad were forced to visit the British Consulate just hours before taking on Moscow Dynamo in the Russian capital.

His side suffered a 3-0 defeat to Dynamo, but Tomarov insists there will be no hangover from the drama when they take on Gerrard's men.

"We didn't really have an issue with the visas but we had problems with the time because we only found out we were coming here on Thursday, so we had very limited time to apply," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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