STEVEN GERRARD wants his players to find their “rhythm” in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup clash with Stranraer ahead of the resumption of league football on Wednesday.
The Light Blues will face the League One outfit in their first competitive match following the winter break before hosting St Mirren next midweek in the Scottish Premiership.
The clash with The Blues is at the forefront of Gerrard’s mind for now, however, as he looks to take his side to glory in the competition come May.
He told today’s press conference: “It is an important game for us as it is a competition we want to win and we want to go all the way to Hampden.
“The experience of Hampden in the League Cup has given us a real, good taste and I am sure the players echo that we want to go all the way.
“We will treat Stranraer with the upmost respect – it is a home game, it is the first game back after a small break, so all the players are excited – I certainly am and we want to get our rhythm back as quick as we can as this time last year, we had a set-back with the cancellation of the Cowdenbeath game and then a set-back at Kilmarnock where I didn’t feel we stayed in our rhythm throughout the game.
“So we are hoping to start this second part of the fixtures in a better rhythm and in a better place.”
After impressing on the Dubai training camp, Gerrard was asked given the high-level of pressure this season if it makes it more difficult to introduce Academy players into his side.
He continued: “I think it makes it tougher, of course it does. But, it is pretty simple my message to the Academy players – if they are good enough and they are good enough consistently and they show they are better than the people who are in their place who have got the shirt, then we will look at it and analyse it very seriously.
“I’m someone who is from an Academy and I want to give them an opportunity and a taste for it – but I am not someone who buys into all this, ‘oh my pathway is blocked’ and ‘oh my agent has seven other teams waiting for me.’
“I’m not interested in all that – if you want to play for Rangers, and you are good enough, you will get there.”
And, asked about the sort of team he will send out to face Stranraer tomorrow, Gerrard added: “You will see some changes, certainly from the last XI I picked at Celtic Park. We have actually got two games over the weekend – we’ve got one on Friday night and we have a bounce game here behind closed-doors which enables me to get minutes into all the players legs so everyone is ready for when the league starts as well.
“You will see some changes but you will also see a strong side that is selected to play Stranraer.”