STEVEN GERRARD believes the experience of qualifying for last season’s Europa League should stand his side in ‘good stead’ – but he concedes expectations surrounding his side will now be raised.
Gers came through four tough qualifiers at this stage last season to reach the Group Stages of the competition, and their road to that stage again begins tomorrow night here in Gibraltar against St Joseph’s.
Gerrard insisted any player not ready to deal with such conditions shouldn’t be at Rangers, and told tonight’s press conference at the Victoria Stadium: “The experience should put us in good stead, but it does certainly raise expectations. But, if you are not ready or prepared to deal with expectations and accept them at a club like Rangers then you’re in the wrong place.
“I think how difficult it will be will depend on how well we play first and foremost, but also, if and as and when we progress, it depends on the luck of the draw as well.”
Tomorrow’s tie in the first qualifying round will take place on an artificial surface – but the manager was quick to shrug off any suggestion of that being an issue going in to the game.
He continued: “No. I think my players should be used to artificial surfaces with the amount of times we went to Kilmarnock, Livingston and Hamilton last year – I think we might have done it around 10 times if you take into consideration we played at Ufa as well.
“So we should be used to this and we won’t use it as an excuse – that’s for sure.”
Gerrard also discussed tomorrow’s opponents, who came through a tough preliminary round tie with Kosovan side Pristina to reach this stage.
He added: “We have seen them twice in the two games that they qualified through, and we have also done some homework on the individual players they have as well.
“So we will be fine and we will be well-drilled. We always go along the lines of it being about us and what we are going to do.
“We have to back ourselves and believe in our way that it is going to be good enough to get a result here.
“But we will certainly show the opposition respect – we have had a warm welcome when we have arrived and we will show them respect individually and collectively and we will have to play well to get the correct result.”