Steven Gerrard: Rangers manager not with Covid-hit squad in Armenia

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Steven Gerrard's Rangers bid for a spot in the Europa League group phase

Europa League playoff: Alashkert v Rangers Location: Alashkert stadium Date: Thursday 26 August Kick-off at 16:00 BST. Updates: BBC Sport website & app.

Steven Gerrard, manager of Rangers, and a number of other players were unable to travel with Rangers on Thursday for the Europa League play-off against Alashkert due to a Covid-19 epidemic.

Gary McAllister, assistant coach and Michael Beale will be leading the team. Robby McCrorie, third-choice goalkeeper, will make his debut.

Rangers lead Armenia by 1-0 and play Celtic in the league's final game on Sunday.

McAllister stated, "We are in constant communication with Steven."

"All presentations and messaging will be the same. The manager will still speak with the players. Michael Beale is also here.

"We are the fortunate ones who are here to affect the game, and we want the best result for the guys back home in the UK."

McAllister said that the club is looking into whether any double-vaccinated members will be able return to Ibrox for the derby.

The latest regulations state that anyone more than two weeks after their second dose can be cut short if they have a negative PCR test.

He said that many of the club members have been twice vaccinated. "There are benefits to this," he explained. "Things are changing rapidly."

McCrorie (23), will make his Rangers debut with a temporary team after he spent last season on loan at Livingston, a Scottish Premiership rival.

McAllister said, "I was impressed with him from the first day of pre-season." McAllister said, "I have seen a completely different player since he got valuable experience on loan."

He is more confident and more chatty. "He has emerged from the shell and is now thinking, 'I belong here!'

Gerrard's team has reached the group stages in the Europa League each of the last three seasons. They would be dropped into the Europa Conference League group stage if they failed on Thursday.