STEVEN GERRARD is hopeful Jermain Defoe will agree a permanent deal with Rangers when his contract with Bournemouth expires in the summer.
The 37-year-old former England international striker will be a free agent at the end of the season when his Ibrox loan deal also comes to an end.
Defoe’s game-time at Ibrox has been restricted with the form of 28-goal Alfredo Morelos, but Gerrard acknowledged the importance of the veteran hitman.
The much-travelled forward is expected to lead the line against Stranraer in the Scottish Cup-tie on Friday as well as in Premiership fixtures against St Mirren and Hearts.
Gerrard, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “We don’t play with two number 9s unless we are trying to force something or we’re trying to get more goals on the pitch.
“They are both as important as each other. We want Jermain to stay, he knows exactly what the situation is. It’s in Jermain’s hands. We want him to stay and going off what I see I am hopeful something can be done.
“He appreciates where he is at this stage in his career and he appreciates the size of the club he’s at. I think he’s loving it.”
Defoe has 14 goals in all competitions this season, netting 11 in the Premiership.
With Morelos set for a spell on the sidelines following his red card against Celtic at Parkhead last month, the Englishman will have a key role for Gers going into the second half of the campaign as they push to derail the Hoops in their bid for nine successive titles.