Steven Gerrard believes Borna Barisic’s Rangers career should go from strength to strength following his “outstanding” performance against Feyenoord on Thursday night.
The Croatia defender signed for the Ibrox club on a four-year deal for a reported fee of £2.2 million in 2018 after impressing for NK Osijek against Gerrard’s side in the Europa League qualifiers.
Barisic, though, struggled to make the left-back position his own with right-back Jon Flanagan and midfielder Andy Halliday often preferred.
However, Gerrard and the Rangers fans were more than happy with Barisic’s display in the 1-0 Europa League win over the Dutch side at Ibrox, after he had returned to the defence along with Filip Helander and set up Sheyi Ojo for the only goal of the game.
Ahead of the trip to St Johnstone in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Sunday, Gerrard praised his player.
“Borna is the Croatia left-back so he would have played in those pressure games against that level of opponent,” he said.
“He is a top player. We brought Borna in here for a reason, we feel he can contribute a lot from left-back.
“I thought his performance was outstanding last night and that should give him a lot of belief and confidence to build on that.
“But Borna is very highly respected within the staff and the dressing room.
“Other people have obviously got opinions on him but we don’t really take much notice of that.
“We just worry about what we see and the belief we have in the player and it is certainly there.”
Gerrard is unhappy with the 12:15pm start time at McDiarmid Park after the 8pm kick-off against Feyenoord.
The former Liverpool and England captain, who will make changes to his side for the trip to Perth, said: “We are not complaining, it is the way it is. But certainly for us and Celtic, you would like to think that our own league would help us in terms of kick-off times but they go the other way and make them earlier and they give you morning kick-offs.
“I probably haven’t been up here long enough to maybe bring that up but it is not good, is it, when you are kicking off at 8 o’clock on a Thursday night and your players, (with) the adrenaline and you can’t get a sleep until three or four o’clock in the morning and then our league, who are supposed to be our governing body who help us, go and agree a kick-off time at 12:15 on Sunday.”
St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright, pictured, has dismissed any notion that Rangers could be vulnerable after their European exploits.
Manager Steven Gerrard commented on a lack of help from the Scottish Professional Football League after their trip to Perth was scheduled for Sunday lunchtime, after Rangers beat Feyenoord in their opening Europa League group game on Thursday night.
Gerrard was keen to stress he was not complaining and his desire to have two players fighting for every position will give him options to change his team for the game at McDiarmid Park.
Rangers won five of their six Sunday matches immediately after last season’s Europa League group games, including a 5-1 win over Saints, and Wright is not expecting any ill-effects for the visitors.
Wright said: “I don’t think it makes much difference Rangers playing a European tie before facing us.
“They are well used to the routine from last season and they have a big enough squad to handle all these games.
“At this early stage of the season players are fresh and can cope with three games in a week.”