Rangers: Steven Gerrard 'will do some weeding' of Ibrox squad, warns Jimmy Nicholl

Rangers' David Bates scores the winner against Kilmarnock
David Bates scored Rangers' winner against Kilmarnock

Jimmy Nicholl has urged Rangers' players to prove they are "flowers" not "weeds" before incoming manager Steven Gerrard prunes the squad.

Nicholl was put in caretaker charge until Gerrard arrives on 1 June and started with a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock.

The Northern Irishman said he told them: "Give yourselves a chance in these three games to have the manager looking forward to working with you.

"He'll do a bit of weeding. He'll get the weeds sorted out from the flowers."

Graeme Murty was sacked as manager following a 5-0 hammering by Celtic that secured Rangers' city rivals a seventh consecutive league title, with Gerrard's appointment confirmed on Friday.

But the victory over Steve Clarke's Killie keeps Rangers in the race for the runners-up spot and they are now one point behind Aberdeen and two ahead of Hibernian with two games remaining.

"I asked for a response and we got it," Nicholl said. "There's a way to lose games and the way we lost the last two against Celtic wasn't great. They restored a wee bit of pride.

"I told them, me and Jonatan Johansson have got three games in charge and, after Hibs next Monday, I'll be away probably.

"I'm standing there as a supporter now. I'm not standing there as a man of any authority. So sort it out.

Kilmarnock's Stuart Findlay and Rangers' Alfredo Morelos exchange words
Kilmarnock's Steve Clarke was disappointed Rangers' Alfredo Morelos (right) was not sent off

"I want to leave [Steven Gerrard] a legacy of European football at least - and, by doing that, that means they've performed and he's happy with what he's seen."

Nicholl admitted that his overriding emotion was relief at securing three points that "keeps you in it" considering he was running out of patience by the time his side made the breakthrough after 85 minutes during which "their keeper never had a save to make".

David Bates, the central defender who is joining Hamburg this summer, scored the winner on his comeback from two months out through injury.

Kilmarnock manager Clarke was disappointed that Alfredo Morelos was not shown a second yellow card after the Colombian striker was involved in two clashes with Stuart Findlay as fifth-placed Kilmarnock suffered a third consecutive defeat.

"There was an elbow on Stuart dealt with by a yellow card, which I'm not sure is the right card," Clarke said. "There was also a punch to his groin later on.

"He gave a free-kick to us, so he saw the movement - but no second yellow.

"I don't want the lad Morelos to be cited or dealt with because it doesn't help us or this game, but it shows a little bit, for me, the level of the refereeing performance today.

"Referees have to be fair to both teams, that's all I ask for."

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