IT wasn’t so long ago that Rangers hardly had enough international call-ups to justify calling off a Petrofac Cup tie. Fast forward five years and Steven Gerrard finds his stars playing key roles in big results all over the globe.

As the domestic stuff gets back under way this lunchtime against Hearts this lunchtime, these midweek adventures are as clear a symptom as any of the club’s rebirth.

In no particular order, they were as follows. Midfielder Joe Aribo was a scorer for the second Nigeria game running as the Super Eagles recorded a famous friendly draw against Brazil. Scott Arfield captained Canada to their first-ever victory against near neighbours USA. Premiership player of the month Alfredo Morelos started his first match for Colombia. Steven Davis started both matches as Northern Ireland nearly shocked the Netherlands in Amsterdam then racked up a famous win against the Czech Republic in Prague, with Glen Kamara racking up one win and one loss for Euro 2020 hopefuls Finland.

Borna Barisic can generally hold his head up high after his second qualifying duel of the campaign against Gareth Bale, with Filip Helander an unused sub for Sweden. While Scotland manager Steve Clarke would dearly have loved to call on the services of Scottish duo Allan McGregor and Ryan Jack, the Under-21s were helped out by the likes of on-loan quartet Glenn Middleton, Stephen Kelly and Ross and Robby McCrorie, while Josh McPake, Kai Kennedy and Nathan Patterson were with the Under-19s.

All of this, of course, is great news for the Rangers manager. Better news still is that all appear to have come through it all unscathed, barring a touch of jet lag here and there.

“It is fantastic for the club to see Joe Aribo score against Brazil, fantastic to see Scott Arfield playing for Canada the first time they beat the USA and to be the captain and have such a big impact on the game,” said Gerrard. “Alfredo is getting recognition for his form for Rangers, but the main thing for me is that they have come back fit and they are all available for the weekend. Scott was still feeling a bit of jet lag today but in terms of injuries and knocks we have got a clean slate which is fantastic.”

While club football and international football move to different beats, good form in one tends to translate pretty seamlessly to the other. Perhaps the case in point is Barisic, a man who at one stage seemed likely to be shipped out of the club in short order. Not only does he suddenly feel at home in Scotland, he is bedding down a starting role with the 2018 World Cup finalists.

While the Englishman insists that the credit for this uptick in standards must go to the player himself, he admits that there have been times during his Rangers career where a few home truths have been required. The way Gerrard sees it, throwing in a strategically timed hand grenade every now and then, is part of his job description. It is the kind of thing which certainly didn’t do Gerrard any harm during his playing days.

“I think it might be a dressing room thing with Borna,” said Gerrard. “He is feeling more comfortable in the dressing room, the players are showing him more love. He is in a fantastic place but he deserves the credit for it because he is the one who has pushed himself. The penny has dropped about what we want from him. And all the praise which has been coming his way, he deserves it all because he has been really, really consistent.

“You worry about them all when they are not in the form they can be in,” said Gerrard. “But when you have got a top player and he is off where he should be, it is really noticeable.

“If you look at Borna’s last six to eight performances, that is the level which he should be performing at - that is him. He is an international left back, Croatia’s No 1, you see him comfortable with the likes of Gareth Bale and stuff, it is my job to keep pushing to find that and that is what I did.

“There have probably been days where he hasn’t been happy with me pushing him in certain ways but I know that form has been there, it was just about getting it out of him and now keeping him there.

“Sometimes it takes - and I know this from me being a player - someone to say something you really don’t want to hear. That really helps trigger the path back to where you should be.

“I have loads of examples from my career. Rafa, Roy Evans, Ronnie Moran, Sammy Lee, Phil Thomson - the list goes on!

“They just sit you down, show you the clips, the evidence, the numbers and say look, this is you. Sometimes you just need to be told the truth.

“I’ve had many real honest conversations with Borna and to be fair to him he knows himself. I am sure he will be the first to admit that his form is now where it should be. I am sure he is looking back at all the conversations we have had and said now I know why we have had these chats.”