RANGERS may have won convincingly against Celtic at Parkhead in the Premiership last week and might have been deserved victors over Standard Liege in their opening Europa League group game in Belgium on Thursday night.

But Steven Gerrard and his players face arguably their most important challenge since play resumed after the international break when they host Livingston in the league at Ibrox this afternoon.

James Tavernier and his team mates have shown they can outperform and beat their city rivals as well as top class continental opposition on numerous occasions in the past two seasons.

Their fatal flaw, a weakness that has ultimately ended their bids to win the Scottish title, has been dropping points against lesser sides they should be beating comfortably.

The encounter with Gary Holt’s men offers them an opportunity to show they have addressed that failing and are able to perform at a high level week in, week out.

“The players are in a good place, but all we have done is have a solid start to the season,” said Gerrard. “I’ve been really pleased with what the players have given so far, but we know it is early days.

“It’s been a really strong, positive week, but the next challenge is on us straight away. It’s about consistency and trying to stay in the same place where we are now for as long as we can.

“We know it won’t be perfect all the time. We have to be ready when things don’t go our way that we are not too low and we are not too high when we have a top moment. I couldn’t ask for any more. The only thing I’ll ask for is can we maintain it and try to provide consistency over a longer period of time.”

Yet, Gerrard, who is set to freshen up his starting line-up following their exertions against Liege on Thursday night, has been encouraged by Rangers’ performances home and away in the Premiership in the 2020/21 campaign to date.

They were held to a draw by Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Stadium in August and only picked up a point against Hibernian at Easter Road last month. But they have triumphed against Aberdeen, Hamilton, Motherwell and Celtic on the road and beaten St Mirren, St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Dundee United and Ross County at home without conceding a goal.

The former Liverpool and England midfielder certainly acknowledges that not allowing their standards to drop game to game is vital to their chances of ending Celtic’s run of domestic dominance.

“I think we’ve been getting asked questions since the first game of the season, Aberdeen away,” he said. “The questions aren’t going to go away from week to week, from challenge to challenge. We accept that, we understand the position we’re in. For me, it’s important just to keep the boys humble, ready and focused for the next challenge.

“We know that Livingston will be organised. They’ll have checked us out the last time we played them away on their pitch. This time it’s Ibrox, it’s a different pitch, a different game.

“My job is to help the players recover from a mental point of view to be ready for this challenge. We’ve got 90 minutes to get the job done. In terms of questions being asked about me and the players, they’ve been there since day one and they’ll be here till the day I walk out the door.”

Gerrard strengthened his squad extensively once again during the summer and now has quality options in every position and that will enable him to rest players and avoid slip-ups.

“I don’t think we will completely shuffle the pack,” he said. “Will I look to try and freshen it up in certain areas? Yes, we have got a couple of people who have suffered knocks. We have got players available who are ready to come in to freshen it up.”

Calvin Bassey, the 20-year-old left back who acquitted himself well after replacing Borna Barisic in the first-half on Thursday night, has impressed Gerrard since arriving from Leicester City in the summer and could be one of those brought in.

“He was a plus and I think the fans will be really happy with his showing,” he said. They’ll be really proud of Calvin. He came at a difficult time. He came into a difficult game on a difficult pitch, when conditions were really tough. He played with maturity.

“We trust Calvin. I know he’s young and not mature yet in terms of being a professional. We need to polish him up, we know he’s a rough diamond. But his attributes mean he has a big part to play.

“We have no hesitation in putting him into games at the beginning or into games when’s it’s difficult because he’s ready. He’s shown us on a daily basis that he wants to be here, he’s hungry.

“He wants to push Borna and he’s certainly doing that. I’m really pleased for him. It’s a big moment for him and he just needs to keep building on his performances.”