STEVEN Gerrard has taken time to praise the character of his captain James Tavernier after his missed penalty against Kilmarnock.

The full- back’s first half spot kick was saved by Daniel Bachmann and the Gers boss was quick to point out it shouldn’t have mattered because his side should have created more in front of goal in the goalless draw. Killie will now travel for a replay at Ibrox next week.

Gerrard says he wouldn’t dream of relieving Tavernier of his penalty duties – the 27-year-old has missed just twice from the spot since becoming the club’s first choice penalty taker in November 2017.

Speaking to RangersTV on Wednesday Gerrard said: “Us missing the penalty and Kilmarnock not really causing us many problems means we look at the game and think maybe we could have been a little bit better in the final third to win the game on the night.

“I think if you look at Tav’s record he has been quite consistent. He is disappointed with the penalty against Kilmarnock because I don’t think it went where he intended for it to go.

“In the main he has been very consistent and he is certainly someone who myself and the players trust from the penalty spot. He has got the character to bounce back so if we get a penalty again then James will take it.

“I could see the frustration in his body language so we had a quick chat after the game but I don’t think you can ever criticise a penalty taker unless they do something ridiculous or off plan.

“If he makes a decision, goes with it and doesn’t get it right then we back him. He has taken some really big penalties under pressure for us and delivered so that’s where we get our trust and confidence in him.

“We can’t look at just that incident, there were eleven men out there and subs who came on to do a job and win the game and we never did it.”

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Gerrard awarded his squad with two days off following the trip to Rugby Park in a bid to recover from a heavy schedule of games following the winter break.

He hopes the move will see his team enter Saturday’s Premiership clash with sixth placed St Johnstone all guns blazing.

He continued: “We have had a run of games quite close together so it was good to be able to give the players some time off, more for mental reasons just to switch off for a few days.

“The plan was to have a couple of days off after St Johnstone and then the replay ruined that for them so I brought it forward to this week.

“We changed the schedule for them really and then we have three days to prepare for St Johnstone so hopefully they go into the game really fresh.

“Defensively there were a lot of positives from Saturday and there were a few individuals who stood out within it so we will take that.

“We were a lot better than we were there in the league a few weeks ago; we didn’t make any stupid mistakes and never gifted them anything.”

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