STEVEN GERRARD wants the “real Rangers” to turn up at Tynecastle and book their place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Gers were outstanding in midweek to defeat SC Braga and reach the Last 16 of the Europa League, but now face a Hearts side they lost to at that venue last month.
The manager told today’s media conference: “We are very determined. It is an important competition and it always has been from the beginning.
“We have always shown that respect by putting out the strongest team available at the time to get to where we are now.
“Obviously Hearts are the next challenge for us, and we will go to Edinburgh in a couple of hours with the strongest-possible squad to get the job done.
“The only thing we have to prove is the real Rangers are there for the challenge. I was pretty strong in my assessment of the last 90 minutes there – I didn’t recognise the performance.
“But Hearts have beaten us once since we have been here. They are a good team, we respect them, and more often than not, we have gone there and we have shown the real Rangers to get the outcome from the game that we have wanted.
“Hopefully the real Rangers turn up tomorrow – and if we do, I am confident we will be okay.”
The manager wants his players to take the feel-good factor from defeating Braga forward, continuing: “It should do as we have come through two real, big challenges as a group. Braga over both legs were a very dangerous team with top quality individual players who had a real, interesting way of playing.
“They have had a lot of domestic success by doing that, by winning a cup final and moving from mid-table to third and beating all the top opposition in their league comfortably home and away.
“So to come through both ties the way we have, the players should take confidence and belief from that.
“But you know and I know Hearts will pose a different type of challenge in a different environment and we need to make sure we are recovered physically and mentally for that test.
“We are looking for that level of consistency that we had from the beginning of the season to the break.
“I think we have shown in flashes and individual performances that we can get back to that, but the idea from now to the end of the season is to try and find that consistency.
“Can we find that level and that team performance on a regular basis from now until May? -If we do, I believe we can have an exciting finish. If we don’t, and we continue to change our standards from game to game, we will find some issues and complications like we have.
“The players know when they show the full level of focus and concentration, and really respect the opposition and the challenge in front of them, they are capable against most teams that are out there.
“If we can find that, this team will have no problems and we can perform and make everyone happy. I think you saw the reaction from our supporters over in Braga was incredible, but you get that reaction because the fans can see from start to finish every single player sacrificed themselves for the team.
“Every single player was focused and went out with the mentality to follow a game plan, and they did that ever so well to beat high-class opposition.
“If we can do that consistently, results will follow I’m sure.”
The manager also gave an injury update today, adding: “We have no issues from Braga, which is good. We have a bit of a mixed day in-terms of recovery and getting some work done on the pitch prior to us leaving.
“Fingers-crossed everyone comes through that – there is an outside chance Jermain Defoe will make the squad, so that is positive news.
“Obviously Kamberi is not available, which is a shame as I thought he was outstanding through the week.
“So yeah, we have no other injury problems to report.”