AFTER claiming an important Europa League Group G point against Porto last night, Steven Gerrard wants his side to rise to another big challenge on Sunday when Motherwell come to Ibrox.
The Steelmen currently sit third in the Ladbrokes Premiership table and have yet to lose away from home in the league – having won three of their fixtures and drawn one on their travels.
Gerrard expects a tough test against Stephen Robinson’s men and when asked if he could make several changes to his starting eleven on the back of the midweek trip to Portugal, the manager replied: “We’ll freshen it up but it won’t be wholesale changes.
“I think there are a few that I’ve got to really think hard about. Ryan Kent and Ryan Jack have only just come back and they have played slightly longer than expected, so we will have to see how they recover and make late decisions on them.
“We’ve come through last night in decent shape. I think the players are tired of course and we’ve got a few bumps and bruises, but nothing major.
“We’ve got Andy King back today in his first session from his small injury problem and Glen Kamara has just been sent home ill. We expect them to be back tomorrow so we’ll assess them then.
“But we know Motherwell are going to come and create a challenge for us and they will be a difficult opponent.
“They are in good form, certainly away from home, but at home we have been really strong. I think outside the Old Firm we’ve put in performances that have been really good.
The last two games at home have been against Aberdeen and Hamilton and we’ve won both 5-0 and looked really strong. That’s the type of performance I’m going to be looking for again at the weekend.”
Rangers’ last meeting with Motherwell at Ibrox on 11 November 2018 was a one-sided contest, with the Light Blues going on to win 7-1 after the visitors’ Carl McHugh was sent off after 34 minutes.
On the result and performance that day, Gerrard – speaking at today’s pre-match press conference at the Hummel Training Centre – continued: “Obviously they lost a man so I think the scoreline probably reflected that a little bit, although we were really good on the day.
“But Motherwell are a different team from that game. I think they have recruited really well and I must give my respect to Stephen Robinson for the way he has changed Motherwell from being a physical team that is really direct to a team that constructs and tries to play.
“They are backing themselves to play attractive football and I think they are seeing the benefits from that. They have gone away from home and got some really good results.
“I watched them last week against Aberdeen – I went to the game – and they started really positive, played some nice stuff and missed a penalty and missed a chance to get themselves in front.
“Then they went down the other end and conceded against a strong Aberdeen team. Aberdeen really dominated them from that point, so I’ve seen both sides of Motherwell in 90 minutes just last week.”
The manager believes last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle should be a warning for his side as they prepare for Sunday’s big game.
He added: “I think not just for this weekend, for the whole future. If you go into games and think you can just casually stroll into a match and you are not at your top level, you can be found out, and we certainly were in the opening 10 minutes.
“I think after that we looked fine. We didn’t create enough in the game, but we certainly showed the right mentality and attitude you need at Tynecastle, but it took us 10 minutes to get going.
“We can’t afford that. If we want out of this season what we are all looking for we have to be better from the first whistle.”