STEVEN GERRARD has blasted back at Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke for suggesting Rangers striker Jermain Defoe deserves a ban for diving.
The Rugby Park gaffer drew a comparison with the veteran on-loan frontman’s actions against St Mirren at Ibrox on Saturday with those of Killie’s Jordan Jones earlier in the season, as Scotzine reported yesterday.
The Ayrshire club’s winger – ironically on his way to Gers in the summer after agreeing a pre-contract – was given a retrospective two-game suspension following being found guilty of simulation against Dundee.
Clarke believes Defoe should face the same treatment after winning one of four penalty-kicks referee Andrew Dallas awarded Gerrard’s side against the rock-bottom Paisley outfit.
The Killie chief, who previously coached Gerrard at Liverpool, called for consistency from the Premiership compliance officer.
But the Anfield legend hit back and said: “I was very surprised by Steve’s comments, first and foremost because it’s got absolutely nothing to do with Steve Clarke or Kilmarnock.
“We didn’t punish Jordan Jones, we didn’t give the Kilmarnock player a two-game ban, so why he’s trying to get one of my players banned is a surprise and a disappointment.
CENTRE OF CONTROVERSY…Rangers’ on-loan striker Jermain Defoe. Pic: Geo.
“Because that’s not the type of guy I know Steve Clarke for. He is usually first class, the dealings I had with him as a player when he used to coach me, and since I’ve been at Rangers. So, very surprised by his comments and I don’t think there’s any need for them at all.”
Gerrard added: “The two situations are completely different. Jordan Jones was a yard away from the opponent, dives and buries his head in shame on the turf because he’s embarrassed over it.
“There is small contact on Jermain. None of my players appealed for the penalty, none of my players gave the penalty, so why should Jermain Defoe be banned?
“The referee made the decision, nothing to do with Rangers, nothing to do with the Rangers players. Jermain tried to bounce back up, didn’t appeal for a penalty.”
It’s bound to be interesting around Rugby Park on Saturday evening when Gerrard and Clarke go toe-to-toe as their teams meet in what is certain to be an extremely intriguing Scottish Cup-tie.