PLAYING at Pittodrie is as close as you will get to the Old Firm game for a Rangers player and Steven Gerrard’s side will be in no doubt about how important the fixture with Aberdeen is on Wednesday night.

It is one where you need your experienced players to step up and help the younger ones out. You need to keep your composure throughout the game, you can’t let the fans get to you.

You just need to go up there, do a professional job and win the game. I don’t think it would be a disaster if Rangers only got a draw there, but of course they want the three to keep them in there and lay down a marker to show that they can be there at the end of the season.

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It is hostile up there, there is no doubt about that, and the Aberdeen supporters make their feelings known towards the Rangers players. There have been incidents before so that rivalry is there for everyone to see.

But, as a player, that is where your composure comes in. You have to blank all of that out and just concentrate on what happens on the pitch.

Rangers should be able to handle the atmosphere and the intensity at Pittodrie, because they have already done so in the biggest game of the season against Celtic at Ibrox.

That showed what they are capable of and the manager will be looking for a similar performance and approach from the Old Firm game. This is a test for the players, but it is one that they can come through and they need to go and impose that performance on Aberdeen.

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The performance up there earlier in the season will give Steven belief that Rangers can go there and win. They were excellent with ten men and were disappointed to only come away with a draw.

Aberdeen will be well-drilled, set plays will be important, but Rangers need to go there, win the game, and show how far they have come this season.

These are the games, when you are away from home and the pressure is on, that you need to win if you want to win leagues. You take confidence from winning, but you are laying down a marker for yourself and your rivals of what you are capable of.

Rangers don’t want to lose too much more ground now, even though there are still two Old Firm games to play this season.

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The one at Parkhead next month will be really difficult and they still have further fixtures with Aberdeen and Kilmarnock to come as well.

Of course, they don’t want to let that gap to Celtic get too much bigger. But I don’t think if they were only to get a draw on Wednesday night that the league would be finished.

You have to look at it from a positive point of view. You want to go there, win the game and take all the confidence and momentum you can out of that scenario.

A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world but it would be such a boost to the players and the supporters if Rangers could come back down the road with three points.

When you are behind in a title race, it is all about keeping the pressure on and trying to build up some momentum. Every win is vital.

Rangers haven’t really been able to put together a consistent run of victories this season and you look at the timing of the winter break on the back of the Old Firm game.

In an ideal world, they would have had a run of three or four games after that win to try and really get up a head of steam. That didn’t happen, though.

Rangers have played a lot of games this season but they haven’t had the kind of run that normally you would need to be in the hunt for the league title. They haven’t been blowing teams away every week.

There have been hiccups here and there, they have won a couple and then drawn or lost and I know that will be frustrating for Steven.

If they can find that consistency over five, six, seven games, it is amazing how people round about them will start looking over their shoulder or ahead of them and thinking that Rangers have that fear factor back.

I think they still have that at home but, on the road, they need to avoid repeats of some of the slip-ups like we saw in the first half of the season.

There is no doubting the importance of the two games away from Ibrox this week and you have to target a win at Pittodrie and a win at Rugby Park.

There will be a different pressure on Rangers when they face Kilmarnock on Saturday night in the Scottish Cup. But the requirement to progress in that competition is massive as well.

The next few days are huge for everyone at the club and by the end of the week we might have a clearer understanding of what Rangers can hope to achieve this season.