STEVEN GERRARD will speak to his Rangers players about the potential for racist abuse from home supporters during their Europa League clash with Spartak Moscow this evening.
The Ibrox boss was in charge of the Liverpool side that lost a UEFA Youth League tie in the Russian capital last year in a match that was marred by allegations of racism towards two players.
Liverpool complained that winger Bobby Adekanye was the subject of racially-motivated noises from supporters and Spartak were charged by UEFA.
The former Premier League champions, who have built up a lengthy rap sheet in recent years, were forced to close part of their stadium and told to display an ‘#EqualGame’ banner on the empty seats.
Striker Rhian Brewster alleged he had been subject to abuse from captain Leonid Mironov but the case against the Russian was later thrown out as the Reds urged the governing body to take ‘robust’ action to tackle discrimination in the game.
Gerrard will take to the touchline at the Spartak Stadium tonight as Rangers look for a win that would put them in a commanding position to clinch a knockout berth in Group G.
The 38-year-old could field five black players – James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Lassana Coulibaly, Ovie Ejaria and Alfredo Morelos – in the crunch Europa League clash.
And he will offer support to his squad after witnessing the abhorrent scenes at close hand during his previous trip to Moscow in December.
Gerrard said: “Last year I brought a Liverpool Under-19s team here. We lost and the game was on astroturf in the afternoon then we came to the LIverpool game in the evening to watch.
“It was a full house and a really good atmosphere. I should imagine it will be quite different tomorrow with the form they’ve been in.
“Yes, it (the racist abuse) was bad. Any racist stuff is bad, it’s always bad.
“I hope it doesn’t happen here [tonight], but it’s something we can’t control.
“I never want to experience being in the stadium and hearing it myself.
“I don’t want to see it in any other stadium either, but it will be something I will mention to the team.
“I’ve had the experience 12 months ago in the same area so I will definitely be speaking to the team about it to say that… if it happens again I am here for them to support them and we will deal with it if or when it happens. Let’s all hope it doesn’t because we don’t want to see it.”