STEVEN GERRARD insists it will be unfair to ask either his Rangers side or Celtic to play a Betfred Cup semi-final as little as 40 hours after one of their Europa League showdowns.
The Old Firm duo were kept apart in the draw for the last four but that now leaves Scottish Professional Football League chiefs with a scheduling nightmare.
Dates for the two Hampden semis have been set for Saturday, October 27, and Sunday, October 28.
But with Gers – who landed a semi clash with Aberdeen after Hearts and Celtic came out the hat first – hosting Spartak Moscow on the previous Thursday at the same time as Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops are in Germany to face RB Leipzig, one the Glasgow giants look set to be forced back into action after just one day’s rest.
One solution would be to switch the Saturday semi to Murrayfield and moved it back 24 hours but Gerrard insists the current plan is not on.
“The way I understood it was the first tie out of the draw plays on Saturday?” he joked with a wry smile after watching the Light Blues cruise past quarter-final opponents Ayr with a 4-0 win.
“Listen, whoever has to do that, it’s not fair on any team, having played on the Thursday night. I’ll be interested to see how they decide. All the best with that one.
“We’ll deal with that when we have to. I’m not sure how they will select who plays when or what the rules are.
“Whoever has to do it it won’t be fair as 48 hours is not enough.”
Gers marched into the semis after teenager Glenn Middleton marked his first start for the first team with a double as Nikola Katic and Alfredo Morelos also netted in a comfortable win against Ian McCall’s Ladbrokes Championship leaders.
But there was frustration for Gerrard when Morelos aimed an angry outburst at referee Bobby Madden after being fouled by Ayr defender Jamie Adams and was punished with a booking – his second of the competition – that now rules the Colombian out of next month’s Hampden clash with the Dons.
With Kyle Lafferty cup-tied, it leaves the Light Blues boss with only third-choice striker Umar Sadiq.
Gerrard, though, made it clear the Nigerian has failed to impress since his summer loan move and he may have to look to other options to shoot down Derek McInnes’ men.
“I can understand Alfredo getting frustrated as I thought it was a foul on him,” said Gerrard. “The ref said that their player got the ball cleanly but I disagree.
“It’s a frustration – we lose a player in form and we are going to have to find a way to get the job done without a natural nine unless Sadiq comes to the party and improves an awful lot between now and then.”
Ayr boss McCall was unhappy his side did not get a penalty when Alan Forrest collided with Jon Flanagan in the first half and said: “It was a clear penalty and Bobby says he will phone us to apologise. But 4-0 was a fair reflection of the game.”