Rangers’ Jermain Defoe won’t complain if Steven Gerrard leaves him out

Jermain Defoe scored a perfect hat-trick in Sunday’s 6-1 demolition of Hibernian but insists he won’t be too disappointed if he finds himself on the substitutes’ bench for Thursday’s Europa League tie with Midtjylland.

Jermain Defoe scored a 'perfect treble' against Hibs. Picture: SNS.

Steven Gerrard’s side will take a 4-2 lead into the second leg at Ibrox and are strong favourites to see off the Danish club and progress to the play-off round.

Defoe is a striker in form and scored three – one with his left foot, one with his right and one with his head – in the Premiership rout of Paul Heckingbottom’s Hibs. Alfredo Morelos came off the bench and got a couple himself, though, so the Englishman is relaxed about which striker gets the nod this midweek.

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“Would I be disappointed not to start the next game? Maybe when I was younger,”
the 36-year-old said. “Of course you want to play as many games as you can but the manager is smart enough to know the senior lads – and I don’t say ‘older lads’ – have to be managed.

“It’s important so you can put in those performances.”

Rangers and Celtic sit joint top of the Premiership after the opening two games of the season, both with 100 per cent records. Celtic are top of the pile on goal difference, though, having scored 12 to Rangers’ eight.

Defoe says the Ibrox side were fired up for their rout of Hibs after watching Celtic’s blistering start to the season.

“Of course, yes,” added Defoe when asked if Rangers felt under pressure to hit the goal trail after seeing what Neil Lennon’s team had produced so far.

“You can’t ignore it – the way they’ve started and the amount of goals they’ve scored. You don’t always have to score six or seven goals. It doesn’t really matter. It’s about getting three points. But it is nice to win in that way.

“It’s good for the fans as well as well as the new lads who’ve come in – to get goals and assists. It’s good for the confidence. We just want it to continue for as long as possible.”

Rangers’ next league match is an away trip to St Mirren on Sunday 25 August.