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I'll be a prize guy for the first time, vows Tavernier

 

Angry exchange: Rangers skipper James Tavernier has fired back at Chris Sutton
Angry exchange: Rangers skipper James Tavernier has fired back at Chris Sutton
Chris Sutton

By Andy Newport

Rangers captain James Tavernier has hit back at Chris Sutton, branding the former Celtic striker's "serial loser" comments irrelevant.

TV pundit Sutton has taken aim at the Ibrox skipper and his failure to win any major trophy with the Light Blues since making his move to Glasgow in 2015.

Tavernier has now responded ahead of tomorrow's Betfred Cup final clash with the Hoops at Hampden Park, saying: "Comments from pundits are irrelevant. I am here to do a job, I'm here to win trophies.

"Previously we've not done that, but I fully believe in this squad and what we're capable of doing.

"We have to win games, we have to win trophies. All the boys who have signed here have come to win trophies. We're not here to be second best.

"We have to do everything in our hands and go out there (tomorrow) looking to bring back some silverware."

While Tavernier has bounced back from a slump in form this season, the rest of the Gers defence have seen their levels drop in recent weeks having shipped five goals in their last four games.

That crisis of confidence contributed to Steven Gerrard's team throwing away two points on Wednesday night as Aberdeen were allowed to fight back to snatch a 2-2 draw.

Tavernier knows his side cannot afford to make a repeat of those mistakes against Celtic, but the right-back has urged his team-mates to follow his lead and rediscover their best displays.

"Sometimes it's come down to mistakes, simple things," he explained. "If you can cut those out, show a bit more concentration - and I include myself after the weeks I was getting criticised - you can bounce straight back and be really solid again.

"I've got full confidence in our back four, and as a team, that we can easily rectify those mistakes and get back to clean sheets.

"(The final) will be like when you play European games. The higher level you go up then the more you'll be punished for mistakes.

"We know that we can't afford to give up any mistakes. We know Celtic are going to have some chances so we will have to defend really well on the day."

Tavernier was involved in an ugly incident during Wednesday's Pittodrie clash when he was hit with a bread roll thrown by a Dons supporter.

Aberdeen are investigating the matter, but the Rangers captain - who was confronted by a pitch invader at Easter Road last season - says it is time fan misbehaviour was stamped out.

He said: "I spoke to our security team after the game and they made us aware of what was thrown.

"It's something that is in their hands but we shouldn't have to keep going through these things. We have to address it."

Meanwhile, Gerrard has told Borna Barisic to prove he is fit enough to claim a place in Rangers' starting line-up for tomorrow's big game.

The Croatia left-back is an injury doubt to face Celtic after sitting out Wednesday's draw at Aberdeen with a bone bruising to his foot.

Barisic was the target of some heavy challenges during last month's win at Hamilton and had to be given injections to get him through recent clashes with Feyenoord and Hearts.

Gerrard is eager to start the 27-year-old, who has laid on 10 goals for his team-mates this term, but only if he is ready to battle through 90 minutes and potentially extra time.

The Ibrox boss, also sweating on the availability of a couple of other unnamed first-team stars, said: "Borna did a light session. He did three quarters of that. We're very hopeful.

"We've still got to do one more session so Borna and a few more carrying knocks from Aberdeen will be given as late as possible."

Online rumours have suggested Northern Ireland skipper Steve Davis is one of the players at risk of missing out, but Gerrard would only say: "I don't read what's online. You get a lot of online opinions and keyboard warriors going on about Rangers."

Rangers vs Celtic

Betfred Cup Final

Hampden Park, Tomorrow, 3.00pm

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