Steve Gerrard is encouraged by the goal threat Rangers will carry into Sunday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park.
The Light Blues reached the same stage of the tournament last season but Alfredo Morelos was suspended for the game against Aberdeen and Jermain Defoe had yet to commence his loan deal from Bournemouth.
Rangers lost 1-0 to the Dons that day but this season Morelos and Defoe, while rarely playing together, have scored 31 times between them and boss Gerrard insists his side are in better shape for another tilt at a cup final.
He said: “It is certainly night and day (from last season) in one department; we have two centre forwards fit and in excellent form.
“So we will certainly go into this semi-final with more firepower, that’s for sure. But yes, the squad is improving, we do feel as if we are in a better place than 12 months ago.
“But we have to go and do our talking on the pitch. We will be set a tough challenge at the weekend.
“Hearts have good players, they will compete and fight and try to play to their strengths.
“We need to make sure we are up for that, we compete and show our quality at the right time.
“But we are going into this game in a different place, in terms of a belief and confidence point of view.”
Hearts’ preparations were ripped apart on Thursday with the sacking of boss Craig Levein.
The 1-0 defeat at St Johnstone the previous evening saw the Jambos slip to 11th spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership, level on points with bottom side St Mirren.
However, Gerrard knows the recent 1-1 draw between the teams in the Ladbrokes Premiership at Tynecastle offers a warning.
The former Liverpool and England captain said: “Tynecastle was a reminder that you can’t start games of football thinking you can just turn up. You have to earn the right.
“Tynecastle is a tough place to go, Hearts are a team that are physical and strong so the least you can do is match that, certainly in the opening stages.
“Of course the game will calm down at some stage and we will be able to show our quality but we have to go into this game in a completely different place from a mental point of view.”
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