'People are watching' - Rangers catching eye across Europe, Glen Kamara in particular

Now 26 unbeaten games into the season, including 16 in the league, it’s probably about time people stopped describing Rangers as having enjoyed a strong start to the campaign.

Steven Gerrard on new contract for Glen Kamara: "We need to protect themselves" (Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Steven Gerrard on new contract for Glen Kamara: "We need to protect themselves" (Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

They are now well beyond that. Safely ensconced in the last 32 of the Europa League, they can concentrate on domestic matters until February, with Dundee United, in the league on Sunday, and then a Betfred Cup quarter-final with St Mirren in midweek, next on the agenda.

Gerrard, who watched the likes of Cedric Itten and Bongani Zungu fit in seamlessly as a much-changed team defeated Lech Poznan on Thursday to secure top place in the group, believes even recent additions should now be expected to step in with minimum fuss.

Full-back Nathan Patterson, an academy graduate, also excelled when deputising for skipper James Tavernier in the opening 65 minutes. “New players have enough time now to settle in,” said Gerrard. “The idea was always to try and build a squad where we had two players fighting for each position. The training intensity is really where we want it so, look, we are in a good place. But the challenge for is that you have to work even harder, fight even harder, to maintain form and keep everyone in a good place.

“You obviously need a little bit of luck along the way to keep people fresh and healthy. We also have to try and guard ourselves from the ongoing Covid situation,” he added. “That’s what we are doing from day to day. I’m content with where we are just now. The challenge for everyone is can we maintain it?”

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Dundee United will aim to have a go at knocking this Rangers juggernaut off course. The Ibrox side have not conceded a goal in their last eight domestic outings. United have only scored four goals in their last six league games. There are reasons why a home victory is such long odds.

Another positive from Thursday night, one fitting with Gerrard’s desire to have two players battling for each position, was Zungu’s performance in midfield. He looks more than capable of inheriting either Steven Davis’s or Glen Kamara’s role. Only not yet – certainly in the latter’s case. Kamara’s future is a hot topic.

Gerrard is himself responsible for that after urging the board to finalise the details of Kamara’s contract extension without delay. This pre-meditated appeal was lent pertinence by the Finn’s latest midfield masterclass. Gerrard is aware that playing well at the European level invites a whole new level of interest compared to performing consistently in the Scottish top-flight, which Kamara is also doing, and has been since almost the day he arrived from Dundee. His contract expires in 2023 but Gerrard knows suitors are being alerted in Europe’s major leagues.

“If you perform well at that level, from my experience, people are watching and looking in and we need to protect ourselves from that,” said Gerrard.

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“The club are aware what everyone’s contract situation is and aware of who is performing ever so well and who is going above and beyond and performing very consistently at the moment.

“All the players are aware that we want to speak moving forward and it is about timing. I am sure the right people will be rewarded at the right time.”

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