JAMIE MURPHY could be pushed closer to a full Rangers return given how the Light Blues’ options in wider areas have become stretched.

Injuries to both Jordan Jones and Ryan Kent in the club’s last two games has forced Gerrard into bringing Murphy into consideration, despite him not featuring in a competitive game since suffering a knee injury at Kilmarnock last August.

The manager was however boosted on Saturday, with Kent’s replacement in the win over Livingston, Brandon Barker, netting the third, clinching goal at Ibrox – and having players such as Barker ready to step-in is something he has deliberately tried to do when building his group of players.

“What we have tried to do here,” began Gerrard, “is build a squad – not just a team. So it is that realisation that if you are not in the XI you have to be ready to come on from the side, and if you are outside the squad, be pushing in training to get into the 18.

“That is what we want and we think will bring out the best in everyone really. We suffered an injury to Jordan Jones and suffered an injury to Ryan Kent, so Brandon came on and made a contribution, which should do his confidence the world of good.

“We just have to be careful with Brandon now that we don’t almost think he can play every game now – we have to manage him in the right way as well.

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“It also might make us push Jamie Murphy forward a bit quicker to give us another option as we will be without Jordan Jones for probably another three to four weeks and it looks like Ryan is going to be a couple of weeks as well, so we might have to push Jamie a bit quicker.

“I think he is ready to be part of the 18, but I’m not sure he will be ready to go in and start games in succession.

“He is certainly training very well, and I think in the last week to 10 days, you can see some of his strength coming back, so he is certainly ready to contribute, but I will have to manage his minutes that suit him and be patient with him as well.”

Looking back on the Livi clash, and Gerrard believes, with the benefit of having watched the game back, his side actually performed better than he initially thought at the time.

He added: “I think when I was right when I was speaking after the game and I said if one of our half-chances had gone in, then we would have won at a canter.

“But while Livingston have got a point to fight for and while it is at 0-0, I think you will always come up against the best Livingston – a Livingston that are tenacious, well-organised and will fight for every ball.

“I think we were unfortunate not to go into the break ahead, so the game is different at half-time. They are in a good place – they are positive and they are coming out on the front foot, and then obviously, we get a big help from the penalty.

“After 46 or 47 minutes, Livingston are in a fantastic place and the challenge is a lot more difficult for us, but I think that provoked us into our best and I think we were really good from that moment and we could have won it by more.

“I think if you analyse the whole 90 minutes without the emotion involved, we were much better than Livingston.”

 

 

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