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Rangers boss Steven Gerrard urges patience over Nikola Katic

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard urges patience over Nikola Katic
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The Croatian defender has spent a year on the sidelines following a knee injury.

Steven Gerrard called for patience with Niko Katic after the Rangers defender made a long-awaited return from injury in a goalless friendly draw against Brighton at Ibrox.

The  24-year-old Croatian defender picked up a cruciate ligament injury in pre-season training last year and his hard work in rehabilitation was rewarded when he came on at the start of the second half for his first action since March 2020.

Gers fans also got their first sight of Zambia striker Fashion Sakala, recently signed from Belgian club Oostende, who emerged from 10 days in quarantine to give a glimpse of what he hopes to bring to the Scottish champions.

Gerrard told Rangers TV: "It is a special day for Niko. He has worked extremely hard over the course of a year.

"It is still very early. People can't expect to see him back regularly just yet, we have to phase him in and we need to be patient because Niko thinks he is ready now. But we have to respect the injury.

"But that 45 minutes will do him the world of good. I am really pleased for him.

"Fashion is only a week in, and a week in after being in a hotel room for 10 days, which is tough.

"So with time and more games and as he gets used to us he will get better and better, but you can see in the box he is looking to get shots off and he is quick and he is a positive as well.

"I am really happy about the performance. For the majority of the game we played really well.

"I think you can see the improvement from a week ago when we were here against Arsenal.

"I thought Arsenal at times showed their class against us but today I thought we were dominant for large parts."

Gerrard turns his attentions to the visit of Spanish giants Real Madrid in another home friendly on Sunday, as preparation continues for the cinch Premiership opener against Livingston next weekend.

He said: "It is another big test and then we will be ready for next week.

"I think everybody connected to the club should enjoy the occasion, first and foremost, and we thank Real Madrid for coming and picking us to play against.

"It is a fantastic day but it is important we take something from the game.

"We are a week away from the first game of the season. I think you could see by the end of the game close to what I will go with tomorrow and it is important that come the final whistle it is another positive showing and we get out of it what we need which is that look like a Rangers team individually and collectively. That is very important."

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