Steven Gerrard will have big guns fit and firing for St Johnstone rematch

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Andy Newport, PA
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Steven Gerrard is relieved to have all his top stars available for Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash with St Johnstone after Rangers came through their Perth dress rehearsal unscathed.

The Ibrox men host Saints in the last eight this weekend as they look to double up on their Premiership title win.

Gerrard rang the changes to the team which beat Celtic in last weekend’s fourth-round derby battle, with Jack Simpson handed his first start and skipper James Tavernier returning after a two-month lay-off.

But his understudies were unable to put on a winning show as Scott Wright’s first goal for the club was cancelled out in stoppage time by Liam Craig’s last-gasp penalty.

Gerrard could not argue with the 1-1 result, but having seen Ryan Jack and Leon Balogun’s seasons ended by injury in recent days, he was pleased to suffer no further damage.

“I thought we started the game really slowly and finished it really slowly as well – everything in between I thought we were just OK,” said the Rangers boss.

“I’ve got no complaints with the scoreline. As soon as (Sunday’s game with) Celtic finished, I made every decision tonight before the game and during the game with an eye on the weekend and I’m content where we are because everyone is available and fit for selection.

“I gave the squad players some game time, which will be useful moving forward. James has come through fine and we nearly sneaked a result by just playing OK.

“We didn’t play any better than that. We should have seen the game out with better game management but unfortunately we didn’t. But I think St Johnstone more than deserved something out of the game.”

Craig’s equaliser not only handed Callum Davidson’s team a boost ahead of Sunday’s rematch but also secured a valuable result which sees the McDiarmid Park men trim Livingston’s lead in the race for a potential European slot back to three points.

“It’s a big point for us trying to close the gap on Livingston,” said the St Johnstone boss. “We have a big game on Sunday now in the cup then we’ll get focused on the league again.”

Saints striker Guy Melamed appeared to have suffered a concussion as he was replaced early.

But Davidson explained: “Guy was struggling with double vision because of a migraine. He’s fine and he’ll be okay for the weekend, it was just vision problems.

“And as someone who suffers from them myself – I can feel his pain.”