STEVEN GERRARD has issued a ‘one last push’ rallying cry to his Rangers players to ensure they avoid a ‘damaging’ defeat to Celtic in the Premiership title race.

Rangers head into the second derby showdown of the season just three points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ side but have played a game more than their Old Firm rivals.

The Light Blues have had 37 fixtures already this term as they reached the group stages of the Europa League and have kept up the pace at the top of the table.

Now Gerrard has demanded a major effort at Ibrox as the Gers look to head into the winter break within touching distance of Celtic.

He said: “My message to the players is one last push. I’m sure Brendan will deliver a similar message as their schedule has been just as brutal.

“It has been a great experience for myself and the players. It has been a great journey with lots of twists and turns, and highs and lows in there.

“This is an opportunity for us to finish on a high. I have told the players to give it one last push, leave everything out there and see where it takes us.

“There is a lot of football to be played. We are coming up to half way.

“We want a win and we need a win. I think a defeat would be damaging for us. A draw would leave us where we are.

“A win flips the mood and increases the optimism and belief moving forward.

“It would be a very nice feeling, but we have to bring our A game.

“We have been at our best when we are on the front foot, when we play with the shackles off and believe in ourselves. If we bring that then we have a good chance.

“Celtic are the favourites coming into the game. If it becomes six points with a game in hand it would be damaging for us. There is no getting away from that.

“At the same time, if we flip it and manage to take maximum points it would be very helpful.”

Rangers have finished third in their two previous Premiership campaigns as they failed under the stewardship of Mark Warburton, Pedro Caixinha and Graeme Murty.

Being best of the rest would be seen as a sign of progress for many but Gerrard will always demand the best from his Ibrox squad.

He said: “I don’t look too much into it. I just take it fixture by fixture.

“We are at club that demands you win very fixture.

“I haven’t set off at the beginning of the season with any aims to try and be the second best.

“It is a case of aiming for the stars and see where we end up.

“The club should always look to be at the top. That was the message to me when I came in and that hasn’t changed.

“I knew the size of the task to do it in the first season but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and do it.

“I don’t know what the board will see as satisfying but I want to try and win it. I’m here to win the league and everything else we enter. That’s my mentality and it will never change.”