Steven Gerrard: Fully Focussed On Royal Antwerp

STEVEN GERRARD’S Rangers squad are fully focussed on tomorrow night’s clash with Royal Antwerp as the Europa League gets back underway.

After impressively coming through the Group Stages undefeated as group winners from a tough pool, the Light Blues fly out to Belgium this afternoon looking to bring a strong result back to Glasgow ahead of the second leg at Ibrox next week.

And, despite off-field issues dominating the build-up outside the club, inside the first-team bubble, the manager has been thrilled with his players’ approach to what is sure to be a mouth-watering tie.

Speaking exclusively to RangersTV today before departing for Glasgow Airport, the manager explained: "The atmosphere in the group is outstanding at the moment - they are playing with belief and confidence.

"It is a fixture that we respect because of the opposition - they are doing really well in their league domestically and they have had some really impressive results themselves this season.

"So it is an exciting one and it will be over the two legs. It is one we are really looking forward to - the boys are excited and we want to bounce over to Belgium and give a real, good account of ourselves and make the supporters proud because we have let them down in the last few days and we want to get them thinking about football again and hopefully, we can reward them with a positive result and set Ibrox up for next week."

On the squad front, the manager has a very strong squad to pick from, particularly given both Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe are free from suspension in Europe.

He also addressed newspaper speculation surrounding captain James Tavernier, and continued: "Well obviously the boys mentioned won't be involved. We have got some real, good news in-terms of having Alfredo and Kemar back available which will bring a lot of firepower to the squad and the group, and I am really looking forward to having them back for this fixture.

"We have seen recent rumours that James is carrying a niggle which is fake news - there is nothing in that."

The manager also addressed the issue from the last few days, explaining: "I think first and foremost, we have to acknowledge that five of our players have been involved in a breach of the Covid regulations, which, from the top of the club to the bottom, we are all really disappointed in.

"That will be dealt with internally and the players will be fined and we are in dialogue with the SFA and the government moving forward to find the solution in-terms of those boys.

"They have been removed from the club and the squad for now on a short-term basis while they isolate and I will sit down with all of those boys face to face once we are allowed to do so.”

He also confirmed the identities of those involved, adding: "Bongani Zungu is involved.

"Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey and Dapo [Mebude], who is obviously a part of the Academy and on-loan at Queen of the South at the moment, and a young goalkeeper who is an Academy player but has spent some time around the first-team as well, Brian Kinnear.

"We will certainly move forward from it. We are at a real, critical stage in-terms of the games coming up and where we are as a club.

"It won't affect us as a group - I have been absolutely delighted with the group in-terms of their application.

"I feel personally let-down by recent events but, I am trying to move forward and focus on the important things which is to prepare the team for a huge game against Antwerp.

"I am really excited and looking forward to the game and so are the players - they have trained extremely well going into this game and it is important we focus on the important things which is the games that are in front of us.”