Rangers boss Steven Gerrard insists that Jermaine Defoe is a crucial member of his squad as they look to end the season with silverware.
Alfredo Morelos is the club’s top scorer with 28 goals this season while Defoe has 14 to his name.
The English striker opened the scoring in a 6-1 friendly win over Lokomotiv Tashkent at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai. With Morelos suspended for the next few games, Gerrard was asked for his thoughts on Defoe’s performance as his understudy.
“Jermaine Defoe is no understudy. I think that’s very disrespectful,” the Rangers manager snapped.
Rangers are only two points behind Celtic in the Scottish Premiership with a game in hand going into the final stretch and Gerrard believes both Defoe and Morelos will have a part to play in the final stretch.
“We don’t see him as an understudy, we see him as a real valuable member of our squad and we can’t be successful this season without Jermaine Defoe. We can’t be successful this season without Alfredo.”
“I’ve said it many times, we need two good players in every position. We don’t play with two number nines unless we’re trying to force something or we’re trying to get more goal-scorers on the pitch within the system but they’re both as important as each other.”
Given his contributions to the team this campaign, Gerrard is eager to extend Defoe’s stay at the Ibrox Stadium but a renewal is yet to be agreed.
“We want him to stay. He knows that, he knows exactly where the situation is. It’s in Jermaine’s hands, we’ve told him what we want. So the ball’s firmly in his court,” the Liverpool legend informed.
The former midfield star went on to praise the efforts of his most consistent performers, like Defoe, during their winter break in the UAE.
“Top players, no matter who they’re playing against, they’re just always top. You see Steven Davis today, Jermaine Defoe, [Scott] Arfield, [Ryan] Jack, the normal ones who are consistent week in week out. They’re playing in an empty stadium after a week off and they’re just class.”
Rangers face Stranraer FC in the Scottish Cup on January 17 at home next.
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