STEVEN GERRARD has thrown down the gauntlet to his Rangers players ahead of his first competitive match in charge of the club, telling them it is time to sink or swim.

Rangers will take on Macedonian outfit FK Shkupi in the first leg of their Europa League qualifying tie at a sell-out Ibrox tonight, and Gerrard is eager to see if his players can handle the pressure and expectation that comes with playing in front of such a demanding crowd.

And he is determined that the feel-good factor currently enveloping the club since his arrival is not dampened by a shock defeat at the hands of the side from Skopje.

“We’re happy that there is an expectation and that there is a positivity about, but the players have to handle that responsibility and that pressure that is part of this club,” Gerrard said.

“Every player that comes into this club does an interview and says it’s great to be part of Rangers, one of the most successful clubs in the world, and they are at a big club now, but now you have got to go and perform and accept that.

“You have to play under pressure and enjoy that pressure and thrive on it. We can’t have players who are going to sink, because that’s when the problems happen.”

After suffering arguably the worst result in their history at the same stage of this competition last season, when Pedro Caixinha’s Rangers side crashed out to Luxembourgian minnows Progres Niederkorn, Gerrard is warning against any complacency creeping in ahead of tonight’s home leg.

“We are not good enough at the moment to take our foot off the gas or be complacent or be enjoying ourselves,” he said.

“We have got tons of work to do, tons of improvement, before we can be relaxed and pick and choose when we turn up. I don’t expect any complacency and if I see it in any individuals, I won’t be happy.”