Clement plays down Sterling comments and insists Rangers have belief

Dujon Sterling said the team was short of belief after disappointing results.

Rangers manager Philippe Clement has played down comments from Dujon Sterling about a lack of belief in the team, and insists his players are hungry to deliver a win over Hearts in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

A 3-2 defeat to Ross County and 0-0 draw with Dundee have seen the Ibrox side’s premiership title hopes seriously damaged over the last week.

Speaking after the Dens Park stalemate, Sterling had said that the team’s mentality had to change and that belief was lacking in the squad.

Clement said that the 25-year-old had shown inexperience and pointed to Liverpool’s captain as an example of how to speak after a setback.

“It’s the words of a player who is disappointed because we lost points and maybe lacks a bit of experience in that way,” the Rangers boss said. “If I see Virgil van Dijk giving a press interview after the game (against Atalanta) it’s totally different and how it should be.

“That’s things for young players to learn and become better in. It’s more talking out of frustration.

“But I know we can count on Dujon on the field from what he did on the field in the last couple of months in the moment he was fit, which also hasn’t been enough the case for me and we will work with him on that also.”

Clement drew some criticism for his own assessment post-match in Dundee, when he said that the performance had been an improvement on the Ross County game. He doubled down on that on Friday, but said the team was working on the disappointing aspects.

“It was more positive than the Ross County game for sure,” he said. “There were a lot of elements that were much better.

“You need to give credit to Dundee as well for the way they defended. They kept defending, and with a lot of numbers. They’re a team that usually makes a lot of chances and gets a lot of shots on target but they didn’t against us.

“That proves we did something right but we didn’t get the result and we could have done several things better. We’re going to work on that.”

The Belgian said there was still belief in his squad and that they had shown an appetite to show what they can do against Hearts at Hampden.

“If you win ten games in row then you always have more belief than if you lose two times,” he said. “But this is Rangers. It’s a club where you always need to win and every point you lose, it’s like you are going to hell.

“That’s this world, it’s the challenge and it’s good.

“It’s now interesting to see which players can live in that way but it’s an exciting place to be because on the other side, you can go to heaven when you win games and trophies.

“They’re hungry. There’s a desire to have a new game to prove themselves. That’s the case and also what I expect.”

Rangers have already enjoyed cup success this season, with a Viaplay Cup triumph over Aberdeen at the national stadium. Clement is eagerly anticipating another big game and the opportunity to close in on more silverware.

“It’s always exciting to be in a semi-final to be so close to a final and to go to Hampden,” he said. “We had a good experience there and we’re now two games away from a trophy so everybody is really excited about it.”

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