Steven Gerrard: Rangers boss fully focused on Pittodrie test before cup final
Rangers' "great fixture" at Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership is a welcome diversion from the build-up to Sunday's League Cup final, says Steven Gerrard.
The Ibrox side play at Pittodrie four days before taking on Celtic for the season's first silverware at Hampden.
Gerrard's men, second to leaders Celtic on goal difference, have drawn three of their last four matches in Aberdeen.
"I am pleased we have a game, sometimes a week leading into a final can be too long," Gerrard said.
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"This fixture certainly takes the focus away. It's an important three points for us.
"We just fully focus on Aberdeen and the challenge they pose. Going up there in my time, we've had some really good battles and I expect the same. It is a great fixture and these are the games players have to enjoy.
"We'll worry about Sunday come Thursday. There will be no talk of the final round here until after the Aberdeen match, we have to give Aberdeen the respect as they have gone on a spell of winning matches."
Rangers have suffered only one defeat in 16 away matches this season - a last-minute 2-1 Europa League loss at Young Boys - and have dropped just two points in their last 10 Premiership games.
The hostile reception awaiting at Pittodrie holds no fears for Gerrard, whose side hammered Aberdeen 5-0 at Ibrox in the teams' only previous meeting this term.
"We've faced some real big challenges this year when you think of Feyenoord and Legia Warsaw away," he said. "I don't think any of my players will be shying away or intimidated by the atmosphere up there."
Gerrard was coy on whether he would give key men like 25-goal striker Alfredo Morelos the night off to keep him fresh for Sunday, but made it clear players can secure their cup final place by impressing at Pittodrie.
"When you represent this club, you have to do everything you can to stay in the team," Gerrard said.
"We've got to thrive and embrace the atmosphere at Pittodrie. You can't take a competitive edge away from a player. We want them to compete and be up for it, but you have to be disciplined as well and do it in the right manner."