Wednesday 22 August 2018

'Tiny man' Gerrard won't let barbs get under his skin

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Photo: PA
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Photo: PA

Jamie Holland

Steven Gerrard will let Rangers will do their talking on the pitch against Osijek tonight after refusing to bite back at Croatian midfielder Robert Mudrazija.

The 21-year-old claimed his side were "better, stronger, more skilful and better organised" than Rangers despite losing 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round clash last week.

Mudrazija also branded Gerrard a "tiny man" but the Light Blues boss showed no sign of being ruffled as he refused to become embroiled in a war of words when he spoke to the media ahead of the second leg at Ibrox.

"Reading between the lines I think the opposition are very confident," said the former Liverpool captain. "I don't think they have had many positive words to say about us.

"But we can't control what they say and how they are feeling. My focus is on preparing my players. Do their comments give us extra motivation? Not really."

Rangers lead thanks to Alfredo Morelos' close-range header at the City Garden Stadium but Gerrard wants his team to forget about their first-leg advantage.

Possession

He said: "We're confident, we can't wait for the game. We're looking forward to a special atmosphere.

"I have made it very clear to the players what Ibrox wants to see from us in possession and out of possession. The players know the game-plan and now they need to go and deliver.

"They need to forget what happened in the first leg - this game will be totally different. They need to forget about the scoreline and thinking they have an advantage, because they need to go toe-to-toe with this opposition. If we do that and play to our level, I'm very confident we'll get the right result."

Meanwhile, Burnley have sought UEFA dispensation to register another goalkeeper ahead of their clash against Aberdeen, with Nick Pope having undergone an operation on his dislocated shoulder.

Manager Sean Dyche would not put a time frame on Pope's recovery but the England man looks to be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

With Tom Heaton also likely to miss tonight's match because of a calf injury, Burnley could be left with Anders Lindegaard as their only available goalkeeper.

Injury problems were the last thing Dyche needed as he battles to add to the squad that exceeded all expectations by finishing seventh in the Premier League last season.

The Clarets actually have a smaller squad having allowed Dean Marney and Scott Arfield to leave at the end of the last campaign, but Dyche is so far being priced out of the market.

  • Rangers v Osijek, eir Sport 2, 7.45
  • Burnley v Aberdeen, BT Sport 1, 7.45

Irish Independent

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