STEVEN Gerrard watched his side rout Hamilton Accies to climb to the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership table for the first time in ten months – then insisted Rangers are better equipped to stay there than they were 12 months ago. The Ibrox side were top for all of three days after a win against Hearts last December but slipped up at home to Aberdeen then were never able to edge their noses in front of Celtic again for the remainder of the campaign.

Having taken advantage of a slip-up from their historic rivals for the second time in a fortnight, Rangers are assured to stay two points clear at the top during the international break, before they have a chance to extend their lead in an early match at Tynecastle. Gerrard is convinced his side have the strength and depth to cope with the situation far better than they did before.

“It is still very early days in the season, I’ve said to the players to not get carried away,” said Gerrard. “There is a lot of hard work, we still have to improve, we still have to grow. But the answer is yes, we are better, we are stronger than last year. The 11 is stronger, the squad is stronger. We have people coming back from injury so we are in a good place. I just want to win football matches, as many as I can. There is a break now and I focus on what I have to do to beat Hearts.”

Gerrard eulogised Jermain Defoe, who celebrated his 37th birthday today with his second Ibrox hat-trick of the season, and praised George Edmundson, the club’s £600,000 summer signing from Oldham Athletic, for a “flawless” display at centre half on his home debut.

The other goals came from Connor Goldson and Borna Barisic on a day where Rangers got their midweek Europa League defeat to Young Boys out their system. He confirmed that Ryan Jack would miss Scotland action against Russia and San Marino due to the calf injury which kept him out of this game and revealed that Filip Helander missed the game after taking an injection on an ankle injury. He could offer no updates, though, on the club’s pursuit of a director of football, with Ross Wilson of Southampton thought to be close to replacing Mark Allen in the role.

“Do I expect Ryan Jack to miss Scotland duty? Yes, Ryan will be at least two weeks,” said Gerrard. “Joe [Aribo] was very close to being 100% so that is a positive for us. I would have Joe if needed but I wanted to give him his scar as much time as possible to heal, he will go away on international and probably be involved with Nigeria. Jordan Jones is probably three or four weeks away, so just a few weeks away after the break too. So a lot of positives for us on the injury front as well.

“That [the director of football] is not my decision,” he added. “I don’t know how close it is. I have read what has been written but I haven’t been updated on anything, whether it is two days away, three months or four months. So I have nothing to tell you on that.”

A goal down in just seven minutes, this was a forgettable display from Hamilton, whose manager Brian Rice afterwards admitted he felt Celtic and Rangers were as far away from the remainder of the division now as ever. "For me, Celtic and Rangers are on a different planet to anyone else in this division," he said. "The gap between Celtic, Rangers and the rest, is as big as I’ve ever seen in my 40 years in Scottish football."