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Steven Gerrard hopes Rangers can put on a show for Czech schoolkids

Dundee v Rangers – Scottish Premier League – Dens Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Steven Gerrard is hoping Rangers put on a football show for Czech Republic schoolkids in Thursday’s Europa League game against Sparta Prague.

After racist chanting at the Letna stadium UEFA ordered the next home game – against the Scottish champions – to be played behind closed doors.

However, European football’s governing body subsequently agreed to the proposal to let around 10,000 kids into the Group A fixture free of charge with some adult supervision.

The Light Blues boss said: “I think it is a good opportunity for the kids to see a really important match.

“Obviously we are responsible for trying to make that game as good as possible, so let’s hope it is a good spectacle and an enjoyable game for the kids.

“It is certainly better than it being an empty for sure, at least there will be an atmosphere.”

Gerrard has no qualms about facing up to another team from the Czech Republic capital following last season’s trauma against Slavia Prague in the Europa League last-16 clash at Ibrox.

Slavia’s Ondrej Kudela was banned for 10 matches after racially abusing Gers midfielder Glen Kamara, who was suspended for three games after an alleged altercation with Kudela in the tunnel afterwards.

Rangers striker Kemar Roofe was banned for four games for a high tackle on keeper Ondrej Kolar and there was an ugly fall-out from the tie from which Slavia Prague emerged triumphant.

Gerrard, who has no fresh injuries from the weekend’s cinch Premiership win at Dundee, said: “I spoke to the majority of my players in the last couple of days and we spoke about the game.

“Glen and Kemar who were affected in the last game are in a good place, both wanting to come and put in a performance for the team.

“There is no apprehension as far as I am concerned.

“I have had assurances that everything is going to be fine and for me it is all about focusing on the game and preparing the team in the best way we can and hopefully it is going to be a real good  spectacle because you have two good teams who both need these points.

“So I predict it is going to be a real good game.”

After losing the first group game at French side Lyon at Ibrox, Gerrard knows the importance of bouncing back on match day two against a Sparta Prague side who drew 0-0 with Brondby in their opener.

He said: “We are well aware we haven’t got off to the best of starts, losing the first game always adds a little bit of tension and pressure to the second game. We take responsibility for that.

“The game plan is to go and try win the game, we need a top performance to take maximum points.

“If we can’t find that performance or result, it is important that we take something away from the game because if not, the group becomes more complicated, there is obviously less points available and it adds even more pressure.

“I wouldn’t say it was must-not-lose, it is not the end of the world but it certainly adds an awful lot of pressure if we don’t take something from the game.”