STEVEN GERRARD insists Daniel Candeias won’t be the last big name to miss out in the Europa League for Rangers after he was overlooked for the qualifier with St Joseph’s tonight.

The Portuguese hasn’t been named in the Light Blues squad that will face the Gibraltarians in the first round at the Victoria Stadium as Rangers set off on what they hope will be another journey to the group stages of the competition.

Jon Flanagan misses out through injury, while Jamie Murphy won’t be involved as he continues his recovery from the knee surgery that kept him out for most of last term.

Boss Gerrard dismissed reports of an approach from Newcastle United as ‘fake news’ and was only focused on the job in hand ahead of Rangers’ first competitive clash of the season.

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Gerrard said: “Daniel has been left out of this squad but he won’t be the first and he won’t be the last big name to be left out. As the weeks go by I’ll have to make big calls and leave out big players, who are good players, but we hope it’s going to be a 60 game season.

“I’m not going to make a big thing of it. It’s just way it is. We have big numbers and big squads and big players and competition for places.

“It’s only normal from week to week that there are changes, who is in and who is out. Daniel is a good player, he played a lot of games for me last year. 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 were to progress.

“Knowing the player, there is always going to be disappointment. I would be more concerned if there wasn’t disappointment.

“With any players, if they are not in the 11 or the 18, they are well within their rights to feel disappointed.

“But you also expect a level of professionalism where you get on with it and you fight for the jersey and fight for your place. You take it in the right way and take it as a challenge to win the shirt back. That’s what all the top players did that I played with and that’s what I always tried to do.

“Of course you were dead disappointed not to play but you take that as challenge to win the shirt back.”

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Rangers made it through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stages last term and they went head-to-head with Villarreal, Spartak Moscow and Rapid Vienna before narrowly missing out on a knock-out berth.

The Gers are overwhelming favourites to progress to the second round and set up a meeting with Cork City or Progres Niederkorn as they look to start the campaign on a positive note.

Gerrard put his players through their paces in Glasgow on Monday morning but the Light Blues didn’t take to the plastic pitch at the Victoria Stadium after arriving late in Gibraltar.

Gerrard said: “The experience of last season should hold us in good stead. It certainly raises expectations but if you’re not ready or prepared to deal with expectations and accept it at a club like Rangers you’re in the wrong place.

“We have to take that on the chin. How difficult it will be will depend on how well we play and if and how well we progress depends on the luck of the draw as well.

“My players should be used to artificial surfaces given the amount of times we played on them at places such as Livingston, Kilmarnock and Hamilton last year. We must have played on them 10 times and also at Ufa as well so we should be used to it and won’t be using this as an excuse, that’s for sure.

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“We were delayed from Glasgow for over an hour. Our plan was to bring the team here but we are of schedule so all the players have gone back to the hotel. Andy and I will have a quick look at the pitch while we are here and report back to the players.”

It was at this stage of the Europa League 12 months ago that Gerrard made his competitive debut as Rangers boss as his side saw off Shkupi to book a place in the second round.

And the 39-year-old will take nothing for granted after an encouraging pre-season that has included friendly wins over Mansfield, TNS and Oxford United in recent days.

Gerrard said: “We always show the opposition respect and I think it is a big mistake if you look too far ahead. You have always got to prepare correctly for what it is front of you.

“St Joseph’s have got good players, they are a good team and they are effective on this surface. You will not find me or my players being complacent or underestimating the challenge in front of us.”