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Gerrard looking forward as Rangers switch focus to Europe

Rangers warmed up for Royal Antwerp with a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock.

Gerrard looking forward as Rangers switch focus to Europe SNS Group

Steven Gerrard spoke about a “really exciting time” for Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers after securing another three vital points before turning their attention to Europe.

A terrific Ryan Jack strike after 38 minutes gave the Light Blues a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox and restored their 21-point advantage over Celtic, who have two games in hand.

Boss Gerrard will now start preparing for the first leg of their last-32 Europa League clash against Royal Antwerp in Belgium on Thursday.

He said: “It’s a really exciting time for us. We have the chance to go into the last 16 of Europe again.

“This is where the players want to test themselves. It’s a really good tie for us. It will be tough but we are ready.

“We’ll welcome Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos back (from suspension) into the group which is a lot more healthy than it was a few weeks back.

“We’ve got options to pick from. It will be a nice break away from the league and we will give everything we have got to try and set it up for the second leg.

“The players should be really excited now and embrace what’s in front of them, go and be the best version of themselves.

“If they do, they have a wonderful opportunity to turn this season into a success.”

Gerrard insists Rangers will “do our best” to go further in the competition than last season when they were knocked out at the last-16 stage by Bayer Leverkusen.

He said: “We are going to try and attack every game that’s in front of us.

“We want to commit to every game, we’ve got the numbers in the squad and the quality to do it.

“My focus hasn’t been too much on Antwerp up until now. I’ve watched a few games but I’m going to watch an awful lot more between now and Thursday.

“I know they’ve got a striker suspended for Thursday and one about to come back from injury. I know there has been a managerial change since the draw was made.

“They are flying high in the league, they are second in a strong league for a reason.

“My respect is there for them but we really want to really embrace these two games and give it everything we’ve got to get into the last-16.

“So our full focus switches to the Europa League now.

“I want the boys to be excited, I want them to bounce over to Belgium and be really confident they can give their best.”

Gerrard praised Jack for his 25-yard volley, saying, “any midfielder would be happy with a strike like that” and was pleased by the response to dropping two points at Hamilton last week.

He said: “We came off ourselves last week in terms of our identity but we bounced back today with another strong win even though the scoreline doesn’t suggest that.”

New Kilmarnock boss Tommy Wright was in charge for only the second time and watched the Rugby Park outfit lose their seventh straight game to be left one point above bottom side Ross County having played a game more.

He said: “I was disappointed at the goal on two points; one, we should clear our lines better and two, it was handball, after the header it hits the Rangers player’s hand.

“The official should see that. It was a great finish from Jack, we can’t do much about that.

“Whilst there are positives in terms of the effort and work rate and the shape we had was good, ultimately there is huge disappointment that we didn’t do enough in the final third.”