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Steven Gerrard: I'll keep giving Rangers' attacking stars a license to thrill in crucial campaign

 

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Free licence: Steven Gerrard has been excited by his star forwards

Free licence: Steven Gerrard has been excited by his star forwards

PA

Free licence: Steven Gerrard has been excited by his star forwards

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is giving his attacking players a licence to thrill as the Light Blues aim to make the most of Celtic's enforced absence.

They play host to St Johnstone this evening amid the threat of the Scottish government calling a halt to the game in Scotland after Boli Bolingoli's "error of judgment", with the Celtic defender having failed to quarantine following a secret trip to Spain and then playing in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock.

This latest controversy comes after Aberdeen's visit to St Johnstone last Saturday was postponed after two Dons players tested positive for Covid-19 and a further six were instructed to self-isolate following a night out.

And while the Celts and Dons sit out action for the time being, Gerrard wants his side to continue to win in style,

The weekend win over St Mirren saw Ryan Kent, Ianis Hagi, Joe Aribo and two-goal hero Alfredo Morelos swapping positions, and Gerrard said they would continue to do so.

"It is definitely something we have worked on - not just this season, we have worked on it a lot throughout our time," he said.

"But we do want to give players like Joe that licence to go and roam, be free and express themselves because that is how we feel we will get the most out of those individuals.

"They are talented players and we don't want them to be hemmed into one position if you like.

"So that's not just for Joe - it is for all the attacking players, as long as you respect the position and respect the shape of the team and the organisation out of possession.

"When we are in possession, we want to make it as difficult as we can for opposition teams.

"We are going to get a lot of teams that come and sit in a block and who are organised and try to derail us.

"So the more fluidity with people changing positions and causing as many problems for opposition teams, the better it is in my opinion."

Gerrard, along with his fellow Premiership managers and club captains, held talks with Scottish government officials on Monday evening and the message about responsibilities was hammered home.

He said: "It certainly has been in terms of me being on that chat (on Monday), the severity of the chat, how important it is that everyone behaves in the right way.

"And it is a concern and a worry because if mistakes continue to happen there is no doubt about it, the football season will be cancelled and that's not what I want or what anyone wants at Rangers, or throughout Scottish football.

"It was very constructive. I think the reason they wanted it on Zoom is for it to remain private and confidential.

"But the message was certainly sent home in terms of how we need to behave and our responsibilities as managers, players and clubs to make sure we continue to do the right things.

"We will be sent a video from the Zoom call so we can send reminders to the players and staff at the club in what we need to do moving forward.

"But it is a wake-up call and a strong message from the government and some reminders of what could possibly happen if mistakes continue to happen and that's not what anyone wants."

Gerrard, who hopes his boys can make it three wins out of three tonight since the start of the league, is confident that Rangers are abiding by the coronavirus rules.

He said: "I don't think we are putting any extra measures in but what we are doing is reminding everyone about our responsibilities and behaviour during this time.

"Up to now I think everybody has done extremely well here at Rangers, the medical department has been fantastic and first class since lockdown, keeping us updated about the situation.

"But it's just reminders really to the players and the staff that we have to behave in the right way and do the right things."

Rangers v St Johnstone

Scottish Premiership:

Ibrox, Tonight, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph