STEVEN GERRARD knows all about moments that can shape seasons and define players. In August, he saw Borna Barisic undoubtedly kick-start, and perhaps even save, his Rangers career.

With one perfectly timed swing of his left boot, he won over his team-mates, his supporters and clinched three crucial points for Rangers. St Mirren were beaten and Barisic was the unlikely hero.

The Croatian has never looked back and he will take to the field against the same opposition this evening with his place in the team, and the affections of the Ibrox crowd, more secure than it has ever been since he moved from Osijek last season.

For Gerrard, the importance of that free-kick cannot be underestimated as Barisic has gone from strength to strength and established himself for club and country in recent months.

“When you are at a club this size or any club that is close to this size, the first thing you have to do is win your team-mates over and prove that you are going to help them,” Gerrard said. “When we make new signings, sometimes that takes longer. And you have also got to take into consideration that he is moving country for the first time, he is away from a lot of his family. Some people take to it like a duck to water, some take a longer time.

“But the club have done everything we can to try and help. Sometimes it is something that happens on the field that gets you accepted in the dressing room and the fans come even more and I think that has been the situation with Borna.

“I do actually think the St Mirren goal was such a big moment for him personally and then his consistency levels from there have been outstanding.”

There would have been a sizeable section of the Ibrox support that would have cashed in on Barisic last summer and ended his time in Glasgow after just one mixed and frustrating campaign.

His departure now would be a huge blow, however. Barisic has attracted interest from the likes of Roma this month but Rangers remain on course to tie the 27-year-old down to an extended deal.

Gerrard said: “We are in talks so it is getting closer as the days go by. Ross (Wilson) is speaking to Borna’s representation and when there is some news on it I will give it to you. But, yeah, talks are ongoing.

“I am confident because the boy is happy. I have got a fantastic relationship with Borna where we communicate a lot. He seems really happy and settled here and he is really enjoying it.

“Obviously he took a bit of time to settle but he has got the fans right where you want them as a player and they are right behind him. He is getting the support from the terraces that he deserves and that his performances deserve. I think when you are happy as a footballer you should stay put.”

It took that moment of magic from Barisic to see off St Mirren earlier in the season as Rangers found the going tough in Paisley. Thankfully for Gerrard, there was no costly error just weeks into the title race.

The challenge at Ibrox this evening will be different but just as difficult, with Buddies boss Jim Goodwin freely admitting his side will set out to be as resolute and defensive as possible.

That is a challenge Rangers have become accustomed to and it is one that won’t faze Gerrard as his side return to Premiership action on home soil.

He said: “St Mirren didn’t really open up against us at their place either. I think we take it as a compliment in many ways that people respect our quality and our threat.

“We see it as a challenge. St Mirren are going to set us a challenge for 90 minutes. They will set themselves up and say to us ‘come and beat us, the pressure is on you’. We respect that. “I thought they were outstanding in the last fixture and there were moments in that game when you are thinking maybe two points could have been taken away from us because of their organisation and shape.

“At a club like this you need big players to provide big moments of quality and Borna delivered in the last game. I think that was the making of Borna in many ways because I think that gave him a lot of self-belief and confidence. It shows what a big goal can do.

“We have to find a way and if we can’t do it in normal play we have to do whatever it takes to get over the line and get maximum points.”

Since kicking-off the New Year with a 6-1 friendly win over Lokomotiv Trashkent in Dubai, Rangers have seen off Stranraer 2-0 in the Scottish Cup and beaten Queen of the South in a behind closed doors fixture.

Ibrox will be expectant when St Mirren visit this evening but Gerrard knows the patience his players show on the pitch has to be replicated off if against stuffy, single-minded opposition.

He said: “It is not as easy as it looks from the stands. I have been there as a player when teams come and they set up in that way. It is tough and it is a challenge.

“I believe this team has got better at this challenge and we have better players now which helps. We have to at times just not really focus on the moans and groans and really focus on the belief that it will come and we will find a breakthrough.

“You have to keep asking the questions, keep playing at that intensity and that style and rhythm that has got us a lot of success. Teams are setting us a challenge and it is our job to try and solve it.”