Ger­rard: We need bet­ter pro­tec­tion from refs

Gers boss hits out over head in­juries ahead of Livi clash

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS JACK

STEVEN GER­RARD be­lieves ref­er­ees must do more to pro­tect play­ers from se­ri­ous head in­juries as Rangers pre­pare for their re­turn to Liv­ingston this week­end.

The Ibrox man­ager was fu­ri­ous ear­lier in the sea­son when mid­fielder Joe Aribo had to re­ceive 20 stitches in a nasty head wound af­ter be­ing caught by Ricki Lamie.

Ger­rard said: “Look, we know all about Liv­ingston’s strengths and weak­nesses and how they like to play and we will be ready for that chal­lenge. The last game was an eye-opener be­cause the phys­ios were on for head in­juries four, five times in the first half.

“All we ask is that across the board, that the ref­eree pro­tects both teams.”

STEVEN GER­RARD be­lieves ref­er­ees must do more to pro­tect play­ers from se­ri­ous head in­juries as Rangers pre­pare for their re­turn to Liv­ingston this week­end. The Ibrox man­ager was fu­ri­ous ear­lier in the sea­son when mid­fielder Joe Aribo had to re­ceive 20 stitches in a nasty head wound af­ter be­ing caught by Ricki Lamie. Ger­rard didn’t place any blame on Lamie but he was up­set with per­for­mance of whistler Don Robert­son as a num­ber of ro­bust chal­lenges went un­pun­ished. Rangers are back at the Tony Mac­a­roni Arena to­mor­row and Ger­rard is ex­pect­ing an­other phys­i­cal en­counter this time out. Ger­rard said: “Look, we know all about Liv­ingston’s strengths and weak­nesses and how they like to play and we will be ready for that chal­lenge. The last game was an eye-opener be­cause the phys­ios were on for head in­juries four, five times in the first half. “There is a lot go­ing on in the me­dia at the moment about head in­juries, so all we ask is that across the board, and for both teams, that the ref­eree pro­tects both teams and peo­ple are not go­ing off the pitch with 20 stitches in their head be­cause peo­ple are lead­ing with their arm. We ex­pect a cer­tain level of pro­tec­tion. “That is not to take away from what Liv­ingston are try­ing to do be­cause we ac­cept the fact that that is their style, we re­spect that. It is none of our busi­ness how they play. “But when our play­ers are go­ing down with stitches in their nose and 20 stitches across their head, it is my job to pro­tect the play­ers. “For both teams, in any game in this league. The way that con­cus­sion works and head in­juries, it is across the board in this league. “One of the things we can im­prove is the pro­tec­tion of play­ers when it comes to this type of stuff.”

DUNDEE UNITED got their week­end off to a swing­ing start with a com­fort­able dis­man­tling of Dundee at Dens Park last night. A sec­ond-half penalty from Nicky Clark and Lawrence Shank­land’s 20th goal of the sea­son was enough to put United nine points clear of their Tay­side ri­vals and six points clear of sec­ond placed Ayr. The Som­er­set Park side can cut the gap this af­ter­noon when they play Queen of the South. De­spite the dom­i­nate na­ture of the sec­ond-half dis­play – Shank­land was de­nied a goal by the wood­work in the lat­ter stages while Conor Haz­ard a fine save in the lat­ter stages too – United man­ager Rob­bie Niel­son has in­sisted that his play­ers can­not be swayed by the lead they hold at the top of the Cham­pi­onship. “Every­one is happy at the moment but we have to win again next week – that’s the pres­sure of be­ing at Dundee United,” said Niel­son, whose side face Queen of the South next week­end. “I thought we did very well in the sec­ond half. The first half was quite even but in the sec­ond half we were more com­fort­able.” United will play that game next week­end with tal­is­manic striker Shank­land. The for­ward will be in­volved with Steve Clarke’s Scot­land squad, a mea­sure of just how pro­lific the 24-year-old has been. There had been lit­tle to write home about in a drab open­ing half but there was much more men­ace about United af­ter the restart. The penalty came when Liam Smith was clat­tered by De­clan McDaid as he went to get a cross into the box with ref­eree Steven McLean point­ing to the spot im­me­di­ately. Clark sent Haz­ard the wrong way and from there on in there seemed lit­tle way back into the game for Dundee. Dens man­ager James McPake had no com­plaints about the spot­kick but couldn’t hide his ir­ri­ta­tion at the cheap­ness with which his side con­ceded. “You have to make the right de­ci­sions, we steamed into a tackle and gifted Dundee United the op­por­tu­nity to take the lead,” he lamented. “For the sec­ond we gave the ball away cheaply and it was an­other goal where they didn’t have to work hard enough. This is go­ing to be an­other sore week­end. “We have an­other few weeks un­til our next game so we have to get back to work­ing on the train­ing ground. But if you give away goals like that it’s dif­fi­cult to win foot­ball matches.” By the time the sec­ond goal fol­lowed the vis­i­tors had a firm grip of the af­fair. Shank­land’s con­fi­dence showed as the striker net­ted with some con­vic­tion. Nel­son slept as the striker, who net­ted for his coun­try last month, ghosted in at his shoul­der and picked up on the sloppy touch. The United for­ward ad­vanced with men­ace, shrug­ging off the chal­lenge from Jor­dan McGhee be­fore dis­patch­ing the ball through the legs of the ad­vanc­ing Jor­dan Forster as it made its way into the back of the net. There could have been more. Paul McMul­lan was de­nied a goal af­ter a fine save from Haz­ard while Shank­land watched an effort come off the post in the fi­nal min­utes.

Dundee United striker Lawrence Shank­land scores to make it 2-0 at Dens Park last night. Pic­ture: SNS

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