STEVEN GERRARD believes referees must do more to protect players from serious head injuries as Rangers prepare for their return to Livingston this weekend.

The Ibrox boss was furious earlier in the season when midfielder Joe Aribo had to receive 20 stitches in a nasty head wound after being caught by Ricki Lamie.

Gerrard didn’t place any blame on Lamie but he was upset with performance of whistler Don Robertson as a number of robust challenges went unpunished.

Rangers are back at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Sunday and Gerrard is expecting another physical encounter this time out.

Gerrard said: “Look, we know all about Livingston’s strengths and weaknesses and how they like to play and we will be ready for that challenge. The last game was an eye-opener because the physios were on for head injuries four, five times in the first half.

“There is a lot going on in the media at the moment about head injuries, so all we ask is that across the board, and for both teams, that the referee protects both teams and people are not going off the pitch with 20 stitches in their head because people are leading with their arm. We expect a certain level of protection.

“That is not to take away from what Livingston are trying to do because we accept the fact that that is their style, we respect that. It is none of our business how they play.

“But when our players are going down with stitches in their nose and 20 stitches across their head, it is my job to protect the players.

“For both teams, in any game in this league. The way that concussion works and head injuries, it is across the board in this league.

“One of the things we can improve is the protection of players when it comes to this type of stuff.”