STEVEN Gerrard last night admitted he is bitterly disappointed that Rangers will have to take on Bayer Leverkusen behind closed doors in the second leg of their Europa League last 16 double header in Germany next Thursday.

The Bundesliga club have taken the decision not to allow any fans into their 30,000 capacity Bay Arena after German health minister Jens Spahn called for any gathering of over 1,000 people to be cancelled.

But Gerrard, whose side is set to take on Peter Bosz’s side in front of a full house at Ibrox this evening, revealed the coronavirus hadn’t affected his preparations for the first leg.

Asked about the decision not to let fans into the rematch next week, Gerrard said: “I'm not delighted about it, that's for sure. Football is all about atmospheres and supporters and people getting the opportunity to go follow their team, especially when you're at this stage of a competition. I know how excited our own supporters are.

“I've not played a professional game behind closed doors. I've obviously played in a lot of reserve games where there is very little people in the crowd. And I've also played in bounce games at Anfield and it's not what you look forward to.

“Part of being a footballer is the experience of playing in great atmospheres with fans behind you. But we all have to accept the rules. I don't think we've had official confirmation on this just yet from our end, but it's certainly looking likely that it is going to be the case.

“For both clubs it's not an ideal situation, but it is what it is. We've all got to follow the experts in this situation and do what we're told.”

Asked if the coronavirus had affected Rangers’ build-up to the first leg tie, Gerrard said: “So far it hasn't really. We've had a couple of meetings with our own medical team. We've also had to attend some meetings with the SFA on the coronavirus. We're basically just following instructions.

“But in terms of our preparations on the pitch, there's been no impact as of yet. Preparations have gone fine and we're ready and raring to go.”

Many Rangers fans who have paid for flights to and hotels in Leverkusen and bought tickets for the match in the Bay Arena next week are still intending on travelling to Germany and Gerrard declined to do so.

“I'm no expert in terms of giving advice out in this situation,” he said. “It's a very unique situation that I've never faced before. I'm sure the fans will do what they want to do. So I'm not really sure what message to give them really. If they decide they've already paid for flights and they want to go support the team in any shape or form, I'll go with that.

“It will only become a worry for us is our own medical people who we trust in this situation tell us that it’s going to be a worry or a concern. That isn’t the case as of yet. We will just follow the instructions as we’re told by UEFA and our own medical team and we’ll do what we have to do.

“I think it’s a concern and a worry for everyone worldwide. I have got the same concerns in this situation. It seems as if it’s growing and growing. We’ll have to take it day by day. We have a fantastic medical team in place and we’ll trust UEFA entirely in terms of the protocol we have to follow.”

There is a possibility that remaining Ladbrokes Premiership games could have to be played behind closed doors and Gerrard stressed that Rangers would comply fully with any SPFL directives.

“If that’s what we’re told to do we’ll have to do it,” he said. “It would be a real big shame for everyone around Europe and the world if the league campaigns and cup competitions can’t finish because people have earned the opportunity to get to the stage where everyone is at.

“So I don’t want to see anything finish right now. If we are told the only way to get stuff finished off and we are told to do that we will follow.”