Rangers players are playing for Europa League tie places - Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard at Ibrox
Steven Gerrard took charge of his first pre-season friendly as Rangers beat TNS 3-1 on Tuesday

Steven Gerrard has told his Rangers players they are competing for Europa League starting places as they begin their pre-season friendlies.

Rangers beat Welsh champions The New Saints 3-1 behind closed doors on Tuesday, and will host Bury on Friday.

But that is the only action they will see before Shkupi arrive for the first qualifying-round tie on 12 July.

"It's an opportunity to put a marker down to me to say, 'I want one of those shirts, I want to play'," Gerrard said.

Gerrard has made seven signings since switching from being a Liverpool youth coach to becoming the Glasgow club's manager.

Tuesday was the first time he has seen them in action apart from putting two sides of his own up against each other during their training camp in Spain.

Goals from Finland Under-21 international Serge Atakayi, Jamie Murphy and Ross McCrorie secured Rangers' win against The New Saints, as Gerrard fielded 22 players, changing the team en masse at half-time.

"There were loads of promising little combinations," assistant manager Gary McAllister told Rangers TV.

"You could see little partnerships developing between players in certain areas of the pitch. I'm sure the gaffer will be very pleased with that.

"The players have got to take plaudits because there was some brave play, some nice combinations, one-twos and good efforts on goal."

Gerrard is excited to get into more competitive games and minutes into the legs of his players.

"It's a big week, but isn't every week when you are the manager of a club this size?" he added.

"We're just off the back of 10 days in Spain, but the first two weeks of pre-season were huge as well.

"We move into the third week and now it's about games, about playing against opposition, so it's a different type of test for the players.

"Then obviously moving on into Ibrox, our home, and we're certainly looking forward to playing in front of our supporters."

McAllister says around 30,000 fans have already bought tickets for the visit of English League Two side Bury on Friday.

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