James Tavernier can push for England caps, says Steven Gerrard

Rangers' James Tavernier. Pic: SNS
Rangers' James Tavernier. Pic: SNS
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Steven Gerrard believes James Tavernier is performing so well for Rangers that he will become a target for Premier League clubs and could even be knocking on the England door.

Gareth Southgate is spoiled for choice at right-back with Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold all battling for the position. But Gerrard – desperate for a win against Hearts today at Ibrox – reckons Rangers skipper Tavernier has to be on the radar the way he has been performing this season.

He said: “Who knows? You have to look at what’s out there. You have the Kyle Walkers, Trent, Trippier. Top, top players. He’s been magnificent. I thought he was very good leading up to his new contract and I thought he deserved that contract.

“He’s been even better since he signed it. He’s gone to another level.

“He’s becoming an animal out of possession and that’s where we spoke about how he could maybe improve his game.

“Going forward he’s the best, he will create goals and he’ll score big goals – whether it’s free-kicks or penalties.

“If we can help him improve, I think we definitely have a Premier League footballer who’s capable of playing down in England. I’m not saying I want him to do that, but he’s blessed with a natural physique that means he can shift through the gears and when he does, he’s unstoppable. When he gets it for a full season, he’ll be even better. He’s a top player in my opinion. He took the captaincy on really well. He’s great to have around the place.

“I’m delighted with his performances and they seem to be getting stronger and stronger. I think he can keep going. He’s got it. I’ve seen players fail to improve after a time but Tav is a good guy and he wants success at Rangers.

“He’s been through good times and bad times. Now that he’s captain, I think he’s thinking about the possibilities of being a successful Rangers captain and that’s a good thought for him to have.”

Gerrard knows that today’s showdown with Hearts represents a hugely significant moment in the season and it’s a game that Rangers must win.

Craig Levein’s side have only failed to take maximum points once, when they were held by shock troops Livingston, and Rangers are desperate to eat into their Premiership lead. And Gerrard knows they will have to keep Steven Naismith quiet if they are to achieve their aim.

He said: “You could say it’s 
must-win. I’m not going to play the importance of it down. It is a huge three points for Rangers.

“Does the world end if we lose it? No, it doesn’t because of the timing of the season, but it would be a big blow. It has the reverse effect if you go and win. It sends out a 
statement, brings them closer in. I’m sure other people around us would welcome us bringing Hearts in as they don’t want the gap to get any bigger.

“It is a fascinating game and we will be ready come kick-off. I’ve had quite a few battles with Steven Naismith. He is a good player and a competitor.

“I’ve followed his career for a long time and I like a lot about his game.

“I think he is infectious the way he plays. I appreciate what he does as a player because he is very selfless.

“He has a fantastic goal record for the position he plays. He scores big goals and he is one we will have to watch very carefully.”