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Gerrard: Hagi thrives on European nights

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Red Imps shocked Celtic four years ago when they claimed a first-leg upset in Brendan Rodgers' first game in charge of the Hoops By PA Media

Last Updated: 17/09/20 7:14am

Steven Gerrard has challenged Ianis Hagi 'to strive for consistency'

Steven Gerrard believes Ianis Hagi thrives on "big European nights" ahead of Thursday's opening Europa League qualifier against Lincoln Red Imps, but has challenged his player to improve his overall consistency levels.

Romania international Hagi, son of former Real Madrid and Barcelona great Gheorghe, has a heavy burden on his back on account of his family name - and Gerrard has been impressed by the 21-year-old's determination.

However, not everyone has been so enthused by the former Genk playmaker's displays so far this season, with mumbles of frustration coming from some Rangers fans following some early season sloppiness.

There have been signs of improvement in recent weeks with Hagi opening his account for the campaign away to Hamilton last month and followed that up with two assists during Saturday's 4-0 drubbing of Dundee United.

Now Gerrard has promised he will stay on the youngster's back to make sure he fulfils his promise.

Hagi scored twice as Rangers beat Portuguese side Braga last season

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the match against Lincoln Red Imps on Thursday, he said: "We saw a real strong performance at Hamilton. He got the goal which has done the world of good for his individual confidence.

"Different players take different times to get up to speed. But he's certainly looking close to what we saw at the back end of last season before Covid kicked in, which is great to see because when he's at his best, he's certainly a big help to the team.

"He does thrive on big European nights but I want him to thrive on every game. I want him to be consistent. When you're a young player and you're growing and evolving, then you have to strive for consistency.

Hagi scores a goal against French club Lyon in a pre-season friendly

"That is going to be Ianis' biggest challenge but that's why a club like Rangers is perfect for him because the supporters and staff will demand that from him.

"But that's what he wants. The kid doesn't want an easy ride. He wants to continue to be tested and pushed and he's got that from me, don't worry about that."

Red Imps shocked Celtic four years ago when they claimed a first-leg upset in Brendan Rodgers' first game in charge of the Hoops.

Gerrard knows the minnows from Gibraltar will be looking to take another scalp against the blue half of Glasgow.

2:33 Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Dundee Utd Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Dundee Utd

He said: "I'm sure their players are really looking forward to this game. It's a fantastic shop window for them, playing on TV against Rangers.

"I'm sure they are going into the game with a cup final mentality. The least we have to do is to match their desire and hunger.

"That's what I'll be all over the players on from now until kick-off. It becomes complicated if you lack respect and think just because we're Rangers we're going to win the game. Football doesn't work like that.

"We've got to match the effort, the commitment, the application and the desire that's coming our way. Then hopefully the quality players we have will get us over the line.

"But the key message is keep your standards high."

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