STEVEN Gerrard has warned his Rangers fringe players they must all be ready to “stand up and be counted” if they are called on during the Scottish title run-in after many of them failed to perform against Stranraer.

Gerrard gave George Edmundson, Wes Foderingham, Andy Halliday and Jordan Jones rare starts in the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round match at Ibrox on Friday night and brought on Sheyi Ojo and Brandon Barker in the second-half.

The former Liverpool and England captain was bitterly disappointed with how his team played against the Ladbrokes League One part-timers even though they won 2-0 to progress to the last 16 of the competition.

He knows he will need to rely on every member of his squad in the weeks ahead with a busy schedule of Premiership, Scottish Cup and Europa League games coming up and has told his first team hopefuls they must be at their best when called on if they are to enjoy a successful season.

Rangers are two points behind Celtic in the Premiership table with a game in hand following their 2-1 victory at Parkhead before the winter shutdown and Gerrard feels there can be no slip-ups if they are to be crowned champions.

“We have improved in the last 12 months and I don’t think anyone can disagree in terms of the strength of the squad and the team,” he said. “The mentality from the beginning of the season until now has been really impressive.

“I hope we continue that, but the games are coming thick and fast and we are going to have to be ready. If we have any ambitions on having a successful season we need to be ready. We have improved, but the bar has been raised.

“We don’t have room for many mistakes moving forward. With the consistency of ourselves and Celtic, I don’t see much changing. We are going to have to be on it and continue to be hungry and consistent for as long as we can. We have to take each game as it comes but we have to be a lot better than we were against Stranraer.”

Gerrard added: “I need everyone to stand up and be counted. If people have any ambitions of making the starting XI then they need to take opportunities like the Stranraer game. Some did and some didn’t.

“There is half a season left and a lot of football to be played. Things happen, injuries and suspensions, a lack of form. People around have to push for chances and they have to grab them.

“On Friday night it was the fixture to make changes. If I didn’t play any of the squad they would wonder when they would play. It was the right thing to give them the opportunity, but then the ball is in their court and they have to take it. They will know themselves whether they have done themselves justice or not.”

Gerrard handed teenagers Nathan Patterson and Kai Kennedy their debuts in the meeting with the Ladbrokes League One part-timers and was delighted with how the right back and winger performed.

However, he has told Patterson, who started the game, that he must continue to apply himself if he is to realise his enormous potential and become a regular fixture in his side.

“He (Patterson) was fantastic,” he said. “For a young kid, in his first game in front of probably the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of, he did everything we asked. At times he showed real calmness and class about his play.

“You can see there is a talent there but there is still a lot of development to come. He has a boy’s body, but he will become a man and he will have a bright future if he continues to do the right things.

“He is a great kid and I am pleased for him. He backs himself and that is what I want. I went away thinking I was pleased I gave him the opportunity and he took it and did himself no harm at all.

“We have signed him up for a long time so he will get more chances in the near future. I wouldn’t be doing him any favours by tossing him in the deep end right now, but he will be around the first team and learning.

“What a 10 days he has had. He went to Dubai, lived with the first team. He got half a game there and then made his debut in front of 38,000 people. He should be proud of himself. This is the start for him. He has had a taste, but he needs to work hard for the next chance.”