Steven Gerrard urges Rangers to seize their chance in Europe

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard takes training before flying to Russia. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard takes training before flying to Russia. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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Steven Gerrard has urged Rangers to seize their chance against Ufa as they look to take a step towards reclaiming a place among Europe’s top clubs.

The Ibrox side are 90 minutes away from clinching a return to the Europa League group stages.

It is eight years since Rangers last appeared in the round-robin phase of a UEFA competition but they stand on the brink of ending that long wait after claiming a slender 1-0 advantage in the first leg in Glasgow last week.

However, tonight’s second-leg showdown is just as important to Ufa, with their boss Sergei Tomarov claiming the Neftyanik Stadium clash is the biggest in their short 
seven-year history.

Now Gerrard has called on his men to finish off the job against the Russians and propel the club back to where they feel they belong.

The Rangers manager – who confirmed Osijek winger Eros Grezda is close to a £2million switch to Glasgow – said: “I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest game in our history because the history at Rangers is so big. The club has played in many games which has created our history for us.

“It’s our responsibility to try to help that and to add to that. We have a responsibility to try to bring European football back.

“The journey we have been on has been about this moment.

“We’ve worked so hard and put a lot of effort in to get this chance, I just hope the players seize this moment.

“I want them to play relaxed and play the way they have done in the previous seven games.

“We’ve had massive occasions against Skhupi, Osjek and Maribor and the players have done ever so well.

“The challenge gets harder the closer you get to where you want to be, but we have proved we can go into these environments and perform. That’s what gives me confidence.”

Rangers were forced to apply for special dispensation from Uefa to hold a late press conference after arriving in Russia at 10pm local time.

But Gerrard insisted his men are not living on borrowed time despite touching down just 21 hours before kick-off.

“We’ll be staying on UK time, so we’ve arrived maybe a few hours late but we’ve done all our preparation back in Glasgow for the game,” said the former Liverpool skipper, who will wait until the day of the game to inspect Ufa’s 
plastic pitch.

“That’s quite normal. You always take into consideration the length of flight, the arrival time and the time change, and we decided the best way to do it was to stay on UK time and do the preparation back in Glasgow.”

Grezda’s signing will come too late for him to feature against the Russians but Gerrard is excited about the Albanian international’s impending arrival. Gerrard – who poured cold water on speculation that a move for 
Nottingham Forrest defender Joe Worrall could be imminent – said: “Grezda is currently having a medical and I don’t want to say too much until it’s over the line.

“But he is an excellent player. The fans will love him because he can contribute in the final third. He’s quick, very direct and comes with international experience.

“According to Borna Barisic and Nikola Katic he was by a mile Osijek’s best player last season. All going well, he’ll 
be a big player for us moving forward.”