STEVEN GERRARD has told his Rangers players they will have to earn their first team places in the new season.
The rookie Ibrox boss, who is preparing his troops for tonight’s Europa League tie against NK Osijek in Croatia, has been laying down the law to the squad who flopped last season.
New striker Umar Sadiq has been left behind because Gerrard reckons he is still at least two weeks away from match fitness.
And the Liverpool legend is adamant top team places at Ibrox are about to become harder to win. He said: “The arrival of new signings early on raised the level.
“We have also added a couple of late such as Lassana Coulibaly, Sadiq and Ryan Kent, while Ovie Ejaria is now fit and available.
“Players are now realising there’s a fight on for the first 11 shirt and real competition for places.
“That can only be healthy for Rangers. Without being disrespectful, I think players have found it too easy in the past to get into this team.
“From the outside looking in, I think people have cruised into this team and got comfortable and complacent.
“You can’t just expect to be a starter for such a big football club. My aim, coming in, was to make it difficult and to challenge people.
“I need to make them realise they must give me everything they’ve got first and foremost to get a shirt and even more so to keep a hold of it on a regular basis.
“That’s the way it’s got to be. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out the demands and expectation from our crowd is enormous.
“If I’m a player in a Rangers shirt I’d put that on myself. I’d say to myself every day coming to work that if I wanted to be in the 11 I’d have to work extremely hard to get there and even harder to stay there.
“That’s how we’ll get players finding consistency in themselves and, hopefully, the team, too.”