THE resounding 5-0 win over Oxford United in a pre-season friendly at Ibrox yesterday underlined the strength in depth that Rangers manager Steven Gerrard now as at his disposal after another summer of frantic transfer activity.

Gerrard used no fewer than 23 players in total in the run-out and every one of those involved did their cause, albeit in a meaningless match against third tier English opposition, no harm whatsoever with their displays.

The Liverpool and England great, whose team get the 2019/20 campaign underway in earnest tomorrow night when they take on St Joseph’s of Gibraltar in their opening Europa League qualifier, will certainly have intense competition for places in the months ahead.

Scott Arfield, Jon Flanagan, Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos and Jamie Murphy all sat out the 90 minutes and more new arrivals are anticipated in the days ahead.

Yet, Gerrard was at pains to point out that Ross McCrorie still has a big future ahead of him at Rangers despite going out on loan to English League One club Portsmouth on Friday.

It had been reported that the Fratton Park club would have the option to sign the 21-year-old defender cum midfielder, who is a huge favourite with the Ibrox supporters, at the end of the agreement.

However, Gerrard stressed that is not the case, insisted he wanted to keep the Scotland Under-21 internationalist and predicted he would return to them, either in January or next summer, as a far more mature performer.

“Ross has signed for Portsmouth on a development loan,” he said. “He’ll go there and get 40 to 50 games. He’ll be a mainstay and starter in a team where he can develop and then come back here.

“There is nothing in that deal for him to sign for Portsmouth long-term. He is our player. And will be for many years. So it’s important to clear that one up as well.

“I had a conversation, quite a few in fact, with him during pre-season to find out where Ross was at – and what would satisfy him moving forward. He said to me he wants to be a starter, he’s desperate to start every single game. He finds it hard being a squad player.

“Together, we’ve found a good solution for Ross. But the important thing is that he comes back a better player.

“Going to Portsmouth, with what the crowd demand there, and with Kenny Jackett as their manager will help him. They’ve obviously had a conversation and promised he will start games. We look forward to seeing him in either six months or 12 months as a much better player.”

Gerrard handed his summer signings Joe Aribo, George Edmundson, Jake Hastie, Jordan Jones, Greg Stewart and Sheyi Ojo as well as youngsters Jamie Barjonas, Lewis Mayo and Joshua McPake run-outs against Oxford and was pleased with how each of them acquitted themselves.

Elsewhere, Matt Polster, the United States internationalist who joined the Glasgow club back in January, also took his place in the starting line-up for the first time. And Greg Docherty, who spent last season on loan at Shrewsbury Town, played in the midfield alongside Aribo, Daniel Candeias and Glen Kamara.

“I think there were a lot of strong individual performances, a lot of quality,” he said. “The idea was to play 45 minutes each but, because of the situation in Europe, we had to adapt.

“But I’m pleased with a comfortable win. It was a great experience for some of the new lads, getting a taste of Ibrox, even though there were only about 20-odd thousand here.

“It’s not ideal, the timing of the European game, but thankfully I’ve got enough quality players to adapt. It won’t affect us. We’ll be fine on Tuesday. We just had to manage the minutes today.”

New signings Greg Stewart and Sheyi Ojo both netted along with Daniel Candeias, Lewis Mayo and Jermain Defoe in a satisfying afternoon for Gerrard.

The Rangers manager revealed that Arfield, who has just returned to training after representing Canada at the Gold Cup, and Murphy, who spent the majority of last season out with a knee injury, are both desperate to be involved.

“Scott is back as of now and will be in tomorrow,” he said. “He won’t be with us on Tuesday – but he wants to be. He texted me saying he was available to start.

“That’s Scott. He will be with us this week, won’t travel with us, will train for three or four days and we’ll try to have him ready for the return leg.

‘“Jamie Murphy played yesterday for the reserves, got some minutes in the tank and will play against Ayr United on Tuesday. He’s in a good place, Jamie. He wanted to play today, again. He’s missed a lot of football and wanted to get back.

“But we have to make sure he’s ready. Especially putting him in front of fans, you know, he’s been out for a year. So you want to build his confidence up and he’ll be back like a new signing.

“I respect that. I want players who want to play. Whether you’ve been injured or been dropped, if you’re out the team, I want players who knock on my door and tell me they want to play and tell me why they should be playing. I love all that. But sometimes you’ve got to give someone the truth.

“If I put Jamie Murphy into serious games of football right now, it would be mismanagement, especially with what he’s been through. He’s had a career-threatening injury. So we have to be patient. I don’t really expect to see the best Jamie Murphy for a good few months yet. But you could see him against Marseille.”