Rangers ready to throw Ryan Kent right into action against Osijek

Steven Gerrard could unleash new Rangers recruit Ryan Kent against Osijek after insisting he is ready to throw the playmaker straight into Europa League action.

Steven Gerrard and the Rangers squad leave for Croatia. Picture: SNS
Steven Gerrard and the Rangers squad leave for Croatia. Picture: SNS

The Liverpool youngster only checked into Ibrox on Sunday after agreeing a year-long loan move.

But manager Gerrard is convinced the attacking midfielder is already up to speed after spending his pre-season preparations training alongside Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League runners-up.

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The 21-year-old could now be handed an immediate introduction to the Rangers faithful when their team take on their Croatian rivals at the Stadion Gradski tonight.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the second qualifying round first-leg clash, Gerrard explained: “He’s an attacking player who can play on either side and he can also play as a nNo 10.

“He’s quick, he’s aggressive in possession in terms of one-v-ones, and he’s an exciting player to watch.

“We’re hoping he can help us in terms of creativity in the final third. He’s two or three days in, so it will take him a while to settle in and get used to his team-mates and his surroundings, but in terms of fitness and where he’s at, he’s in a good place.

“He has had two or three weeks with Jurgen Klopp and he’s not shy in pushing the players physically as we all know.

“So he’s in a good place and he has trained well in the last few days. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can contribute to Rangers.”

Fellow new boy Lassana Coulibaly is also in line to make his Rangers debut after the Angers loanee was included in the travelling party which jetted out of Glasgow earlier yesterday.

However, Umar Sadiq – signed on a temporary 12-month deal from Roma – has been left behind along with casualties Scott Arfield, Declan John, Lee Wallace, Jordan Rossiter and Graham 

Gerrard admits the Nigerian is still short on fitness but could give him a run out in Sunday’s friendly clash with Wigan.

“He is probably a couple of weeks away in terms of being ready for real game time,” said the former Liverpool and England skipper.

“You may see him at the weekend for a certain part of the Wigan game, but we felt it was best for him to stay behind and be pushed by the physical trainers.

“We have to make sure when the supporters see these players, they are ready to perform at a high level fitness-wise. It would be doing them a disservice if we put them in when they are not really ready.”

Rangers saw off Macedonians Shkupi in the previous round with a 2-0 aggregate win, but Gerrard was left concerned by his side’s toothless attack at times.

But the Ibrox manager is confident his side have ironed out the kinks in their earlier displays as they turn their attention to Osijek.

He said: “Our preparations have gone really well. We have analysed what we did well in our previous games and what we need to improve.

“We have studied Osijek a lot. We have analysed their manager, their strengths, their weaknesses and we feel we have prepared well and the players have been well briefed.”