STEVEN Gerrard has praised the contribution of substitute Kyle Lafferty in the midweek Europa League draw against Villarreal – but insisted sentiment will play no part in his decision as to whether or not he starts against his former team Hearts on Sunday. The Northern Irishman almost caught Andres Fernandez out with a vicious strike from distance just seconds after coming onto the pitch and his Gorgie knowhow could come in handy in a match which Rangers go into knowing a win could take them top of the Ladbrokes Premiership for the first time in the Liverpudlian’s reign.
“I thought Kyle was excellent when he came on,” said Gerrard. “That is the Lafferty we want. He was aggressive, putting himself about, difficult to play against and nearly got the winner with an unbelievable strike. He will play a big part from now until the end of the season but there will be no sentiment involved because it is his old club.”
Gerrard never sampled the unique atmosphere at Tynecastle as a player – he was rested for Liverpool’s 2012 Europa League play-off tie against Hearts at Tynecastle, only brought out of cold storage for the second match – but he has made sure to do his reconnaissance work. He took in a home match against St Johnstone early in the season, then a Scotland Under-21 match. It has only whetted his appetite for a match which he expects to get a little bit ‘feisty at times’.
“It is a narrow pitch, a little bit tighter to what we are used to here at Ibrox,” said Gerrard. “But it is the same for both teams. It is a wicked little atmosphere and I am looking forward to the game. I am sure it will be feisty at times this weekend. But I don’t mind that, I am all for that, I used to love playing in those ones.”
As much as he feels it would be an important signal for the fans to go top of the table, he knows nothing is handed out in December. “I think it would be great for the supporters, but you get nothing this early for it.”
Source : HeraldScotland