Steven Gerrard has a warning for his Rangers players.
The Ibrox boss maintains there will be no automatic picks in his team this season.
And that especially applies to Alfredo Morelos.
He might not be with the Light Blues for much longer, with clubs in France and Italy keen to sign the Colombian.
Two new strikers – Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe – have already arrived on four-year deals, and Gerrard is excited to work with them.
He said: “Whether Alfredo stays or goes, he has a fight to keep the shirt because competition for places is what we want in every position.
“That brings the best out in everyone.
“For any position in the team, we don’t want any player to automatically think it’s their shirt every week.
“The plan is to have two good players in every position, and have everyone fighting for game time.
“Once the window is shut, anyone who’s in the door will have a fight on to keep the jersey.
“That’s good and healthy. It’s what the fans want, and it’s the way it should be at a club like Rangers.”
Gerrard said something similar at this time last year, and will hope this summer’s recruitment is more successful in terms of adding strength in depth.
He is still on the hunt for a player or two. There will also be departures.
“I’ve been open about actively wanting to add something in our engine-room,” the Ibrox boss went on.
“We’re trying to do that.
“The majority of our business is done, but I’m actively looking to improve in one or two areas.
“Then we’ll wait and see what happens. I know clubs are looking at our players and monitoring them.
“I expect bids to land for certain people.”
There are some fringe members of Gerrard’s squad keen to leave.
There are currently 40 players in the Rangers’ squad, and men like Greg Docherty, Glenn Middleton, Ross McCrorie, Jamie Barjonas and Jordan Jones are unlikely to feature too often if they stay.
Gerrard said: “It’s not wise or healthy to mention any names, but I’m having conversations with players and trying to be open with them.
“I understand people are frustrated. The squad’s big at the moment, and there’s not enough game time to go around for everyone.
“I do predict that people will go out. I don’t want conflict with anyone. I’ll be honest and give them the respect they deserve.”
Jones was given a chance off the bench against Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, and Gerrard says that shows he will give players a chance to prove their worth.
He went on: “I’m always open to be impressed by any of the players. It’s never too late for anyone.
“That’s been proved before when people on the outside thought someone was done, and it would be a matter of time before they left.
“But then they go through a phase of form and earn an opportunity.
“I’ll never shut the door on a player – unless that player wants to shut the door himself.”
“I respect where we’re at. I don’t want to play it down, but at the same time don’t want to play it up either.”
It’s back to league action when Rangers host St Mirren today.
Gerrard knows the supporters have put the title at the top of their list of priorities this season.
He said: “In the short term, it’s vital that we qualify for the group stages of Europe again. The players have done ever so well to get the extra place in the Champions League, which is very important.
“But having been here two years now, domestic competitions become even more important for myself personally, and the group.
“We are as hungry as ever to put that right.
“But I’m not in a position where I can prioritise any competition.
“I’m the manager of Rangers, and I have a responsibility to fight for every competition.”
Being crowned champions would mean stopping Celtic from making it 10-in-a-row. That’s something Gerrard would rather keep in the background.
He said: “I’m aware of the situation, and I’m aware it will build as we go on. But I have to stay calm. I don’t think I’ll benefit from getting tense, or getting involved in thinking about it.
“My focus is 100% on trying to get three points against St Mirren, then I’ll move on to the next challenge.
“But I’m fully aware of what it means to be the Rangers manager at this time.”
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