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Gerrard welcomes Rangers selection headaches ahead of Europa League qualifier

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard admits his summer arrivals have given him some positive selection headaches ahead of their European opener.

Greg Stewart and Sheyi Ojo scored in a 5-0 friendly win over Oxford on Sunday and Joe Aribo showed good running power. Jake Hastie showed some good touches and delivered some decent crosses while Jordan Jones and George Edmundson are also vying for competitive debuts.

Gerrard has left experienced players out of his Europa League squad for the first qualifying round such as Daniel Candeias because of UEFA limits around numbers and homegrown players.

And he will continue to pore over his team selection ahead of the first leg against St Joseph’s in Gibraltar on Tuesday.

Gerrard said on the club’s website: “I thought in the main they were all very positive with their debuts. A lot of them are here with us and should play some part.

“We are very pleased with not just Sunday’s performance, but how they have all settled in really quickly.

“Andy [Halliday] and I were speaking in the car on the way here about how they have started very strongly, and straight away they have given me big decisions to make.

“As the weeks go by, sometimes I’m going to have to make big calls and leave big players out who are good players. But, we are hoping this is going to be a 60-game season.”

Candeias scored on Sunday and made 52 appearances last season and Gerrard reassured the Portuguese winger he still has a role.

“It’s just a numbers’ game,” he said. “You can swap and change – I’m not going to make a big thing of it.

“It is just the way it is when you have big numbers, big squads, big players and competition for places.

“It is only normal from week to week that it changes on who is in and who is out. Daniel is a good player who played a lot of games for me last year and I predict the same could happen again this year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he is involved in the competition in the next round if we are to progress.”

Alfredo Morelos travelled after missing the Oxford clash with a groin strain.

Gerrard said: “I think we have to think about where he is at – he has missed probably a week now and he only played probably 20 or 25 minutes against Mansfield, so this would be his second game and we will have to be careful with him.”

Full-back Jon Flanagan is missing after undergoing hernia surgery which will sideline him for about three weeks, while Jamie Murphy will face Ayr in a friendly on Tuesday as he works his way back from a serious knee injury.

Midfielder Scott Arfield will not feature in Gibraltar having just returned following international duty with Canada. The out-of-favour Graham Dorrans, Jason Holt, Joe Dodoo, Eros Grezda and Kyle Lafferty are also absent while Jordan Rossiter has joined Fleetwood on loan.