Dujon Sterling has called for a mentality change from Rangers for the season’s finale after a string of poor performances.

The goalless draw at Dundee on Wednesday night in their game in hand left Philippe Clement’s side three points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic with five post-split fixtures remaining, which includes a trip to Parkhead.

The loss of a valuable two points which swings the title further towards Celtic came after their first ever defeat against Ross County on Sunday and a 3-3 draw against the Hoops at Ibrox, where they had to come from behind twice to salvage a point.

Now the Light Blues need to focus on Sunday’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park and Sterling, who signed from Chelsea last summer, was brutally honest about the current state of affairs at the Govan club who now have two wins in eight in all competition and he is looking for rapid change.

Asked about possibly owing a performance on Sunday to Clement, who put up a stout defence of his players after the Dundee disappointment, and the fans who booed the players off in angry frustration, utility player Sterling said: “We owe ourselves a performance as well because we have been s*** the past three games.

“We need to re-set and do it for the fans as well because they have come home and away, backing us, singing for 90, 95, 100 minutes and we owe it to them.

“Obviously the results have been disappointing in the past two weeks and I know they have seen it before over the past years. Hopefully we can change that but we will see.

“We are fighting for a title and the way we are playing is as if we are not playing for anything, like the season is dead and it is a dead rubber game.

“Somehow it has got to switch. I don’t have the words to do it or know how to do it. It is a team thing, not just one person and not just the gaffer.

“We just have to have that belief that we can (come back). We had the togetherness, we had the belief. We still have the togetherness but I don’t know if the belief is there.

” I think everyone has to switch their minds that we can have that belief that we can do this. It is not good enough on our part. We have a lot of work to do and we need to re-set.

“We need to get our heads in the game, switch our mentality because for now, it is not going in the right direction.

“There is still a lot of games to be played and there’s still things to fight for.

“Of course anything can happen. We have five games left, five cup finals and hopefully the fans can push us to get through them.

“The dressing room is down at the minute. But we dust this one off, get back to the training ground and review it, park it and focus on the semi-final.”

Rangers’ recent regression continued with a grim goalless draw at Dundee which further dented their increasingly-fragile cinch Premiership title hopes.

The Ibrox side lost for the first time ever against Ross County on Sunday in the poorest performance since boss Philippe Clement took over last October and the Gers boss was looking for a reaction against the Dark Blues.

In a game played at the third time of asking after the Dens Park pitch was twice ruled unplayable, there was no improvement against a Dundee side who impressed.

The travelling Gers fans urged their team on after the break but they lacked imagination and guile and again heard boos at the final whistle.

With five post-split matches remaining including a trip to Celtic Park, the Light Blues are three points behind the Hoops at the top of the table and have hit the skids at the wrong time.

Rangers will now prepare for the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday with newly-acquired trepidation.

Tony Docherty’s Dundee, who commendably clinched a top-six place on their return to the top flight, are now three points behind fifth-placed St Mirren and they deserved their point.

It is now just two wins in eight in all competitions for Clement’s stumbling side.

Utility player Dujon Sterling, midfielder Tom Lawrence and striker Kemar Roofe returned to the side with the latter making his first start since December 20 as Borna Barisic, Kieran Dowell and Cyriel Dessers dropped to the bench.

Ricki Lamie, Owen Dodgson and Malachi Boateng were back for the Taysiders, who came close to scoring within a minute when Boateng’s low drive just escaped Ibrox keeper Jack Butland’s right-hand post.

Dundee skipper Joe Shaughnessy limped off after 10 minutes to be replaced by Antonio Portales before Gers attacker Abdallah Sima outstripped the home defence but his low drive was blocked by the foot of Jon McCracken, the Dundee keeper saving another effort from the Brighton loanee moments later.

Dundee played the better football. In the 22nd minute Butland parried a Luke McCowan free-kick from 25 yards and Scott Tiffoney got to the rebound first to help it on to Amadou Bakayoko to knock over the line from a yard out but the offside flag went up.

Rangers toiled, threatening only occasionally.

McCracken pushed a curling free-kick from Gers skipper James Tavernier round the post then saved a Connor Goldson header from the resulting corner but it was the more composed and fluid home side who were applauded off at the break.

Rangers stepped up the tempo at the start of the second half but a spark of creativity was absent and Dundee’s defending was organised.

In the 56th minute, Clement tried a shake-up and Dessers, Dowell and Rabbi Matondo replaced Roofe, Todd Cantwell and Fabio Silva and McCracken soon had to save from Lawrence’s drive from a tight angle.

McCracken pulled off a fine save from Dessers’ curling shot as the Dees defence were stretched for once and held a tame Tavernier header but it was mostly huffing and puffing from the visitors while Dundee were always a threat.

Worryingly for Gers fans, their side have suffered a dip in form at the wrong time of the season.

Bullish Philippe Clement has challenged Rangers to make the rest of Europe sit up and take note by reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of Benfica.

The two sides are locked at 2-2 after the first leg in Lisbon and the Ibrox boss, who is ready to welcome influential midfielder Todd Cantwell back into his squad after injury, believes it would be a statement result for his players if they could eliminate the Portuguese title chasers on Thursday.

“We are not naive, we know that Benfica has a really talented squad with a lot of experience also,” Clement said at his pre-match press conference.

“They have World Cup winners in their team, they have a lot of really big talents who will go for a lot of money after this season maybe and other players who have played at a really high level before.

“We know it will be a really big surprise in all of Europe if we can take out Benfica, but we are really hungry to do that.”

Clement told his Rangers players that, if they have aspirations of playing at the very top level, then it is nights like Thursday when they can showcase their abilities.

“It would be something really exciting, because they will show something towards all of Europe (if they get through),” said the manager. “For their career, it can be something really special.

“When you do special things like this, you can come more into attention. I understand the story here in the club that if players can make a step higher than Rangers and there’s a good deal for the club, you need to accept that and find other players to replace them in a good way.

“So in evenings like this, they can make steps in that way. But the most important thing is to understand that it is not an individual thing to show yourself. They can only show themselves if they show themselves as a team.”

Clement admits Benfica are slight favourites, but having led former side Club Brugge to a 2-2 draw in the Bernabeu in October 2019, he will not allow his team to go into the match with any sense of inferiority in front of another capacity Ibrox crowd

“Yes, I think so,” he said when asked if Gers were the underdogs. “If you’re realistic, yes. But in my heart, no.

“I’m always a realistic guy, but I’m a realistic guy who sets the standards high and I know, and I’ve seen, that this team can do that. I told them before the Benfica game that with Brugge we drew 2-2 with Real Madrid and we deserved that.

“We could have won that one, but this Rangers team is better than that Brugge team, so I believe we can win against whatever team we play when things fall on our side. I really believe that.

“I know that Benfica rested four or five players at the weekend towards this game. But my players are ready, I saw enough today, I see the freshness is back, the hunger is really big.

“We know we need to play above our level to qualify, but we are going to do everything to do that and the support of the fans can give something extra.

“This game was sold out really fast. Although it is a really early kick-off and a lot of people have to take a day off work to get to the stadium, we could have sold the stadium two, three times.”

Dujon Sterling will miss out with a minor injury, while Ross McCausland is a doubt, but Cantwell is set to return after missing the last five matches with a hamstring issue.

“He is ready to play an amount of minutes,” said Clement. “He is clearly not ready for 90 minutes, so then it’s about deciding whether to start him or not.

“He feels good and he was good in the training so I’m happy to see him back.”

Rangers twice surrendered the lead to draw the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie against Benfica 2-2.

Philippe Clement’s squad was hit by injuries but returning midfielder Tom Lawrence gave the visitors a dramatic early lead with a header before Angel Di Maria levelled with a penalty kick in first-half added time after VAR intervened to highlight that Gers defender John Souttar had used his arm inside the box.

Light Blues’ utility player Dujon Sterling restored the lead in the fifth of five minutes of added time with his first career goal only for Gers defender Connor Goldson to head into his own goal midway through the second half to take the tie back to Glasgow next Thursday night level.

Much of the pre-match talk was around Clement’s limited options in attack. He was without the services of four injured wingers – Abdallah Sima, Scott Wright, Rabbi Matondo and Oscar Cortes – albeit the latter is not in the European squad. With Ross McCausland only fit to start on the bench, it meant no natural width in attack.

Portuguese attacker Fabio Silva, who spent two seasons with Benfica as a youth player, supported main striker Cyriel Dessers from the left with Sterling working off the right.

Under-pressure home boss Roger Schmidt was looking for his side to bounce back from their 5-0 thrashing by title rivals Porto at the weekend and he had a host of big names in the starting line-up including Argentina World Cup winners Nicolas Otamendi and Di Maria.

Around 3,500 Rangers fans were in position to see Gers goalkeeper Jack Butland make an early save at his near post from David Neres’ drive.

And moments later they were off their seats cheering when Silva sent Mohamed Diomande free inside the box and he lifted the ball for the in-rushing Lawrence to head down past diving keeper Anatoliy Trubin.

Butland then made a double save, first from Neres and then from striker Arthur Cabral from the loose ball, albeit his effort had been partially blocked by Souttar.

However, after VAR Marco Fritz intervened following another Benfica corner, the Gers defender was adjudged by referee German referee Tobias Stieler to have hit the ball with his arm as he defended the delivery and Di María sent Butland the wrong way with his assured penalty.

There was more first-half drama to come in the final minute of the five added when Sterling, signed from Chelsea in the summer, stole in to convert a deflected Silva cross from close range, with a VAR check confirming his landmark goal.

Both sides went for more goals from the start of the second half, with Cabral heading wide at the back post from a Rafa Silva cross before Trubin blocked a Silva effort at the other end.

However, Benfica were level again in the 67th minute when Di Maria floated in a free-kick from 35 yards and Goldson stretched to clear but only sent it past Butland.

The home side sensed a winner was there for them and Di Maria somehow missed the target from 12 yards.

In the 77th minute Kemar Roofe, Ryan Jack and Cole McKinnon took over from Dessers, Lawrence and Sterling but Benfica’s steady pressure continued to the final whistle.

The return game promises more thrills and spills but Rangers will look to complete the job in Govan.

Cyriel Dessers again showed his growing importance to Rangers with the only goal in a narrow 1-0 win over St Mirren.

The 29-year-old striker was not initially a popular figure among the Rangers fans in his early months at Ibrox following his summer move from Cremonese.

However, he has slowly worked his way into the supporters’ good books, especially since the arrival of boss Philippe Clement in October, and he pounced after 14 minutes of the cinch Premiership game in Paisley to score for a third successive match.

The crucial strike took his tally to the season to 12 and keeps the Light Blues in pursuit of league leaders Celtic.

It was a tough afternoon for the Govan side in difficult conditions against a determined Buddies outfit who pushed them all the way.

Following the convincing 3-0 win at Hibernian on Wednesday night, Clement made four changes with defender Connor Goldson back from suspension and Dujon Sterling, Scott Wright and Dessers coming back in while Stephen Robinson returned captain Mark O’Hara and forward Lewis Jamieson.

The swirling wind was a difficult opponent for both sides but the visitors started better without unduly troubling Zach Hemming until Dessers struck.

Midfielder John Lundstram’s perfectly-weighted pass from the middle of the park allowed Dessers to run clear of the Saints defence and round the hesitant Buddies keeper before rolling the ball into the net and taking the acclaim of the travelling fans.

St Mirren were forced out of their shell and the response, led by striker Jonah Ayunga, was impressive.

In the 20th minute midfielder Kwon Hyeok-kyu, on loan from Celtic, blazed the ball over the bar from 12 yards to the groans of the home support.

Moments later, at the other end, Gers skipper James Tavernier clipped the outside of the post with a powerful drive from 20 yards.

However, the Ibrox side were struggling to build on their lead.

Light Blues keeper Jack Butland blocked a Jamieson drive with his foot after the Gers defence was breached again, albeit the offside flag went up.

And in the 37th minute Butland pushed a drive from Kwon round the post but the corner was defended.

St Mirren had edged the first half notwithstanding the goal and the visitors brought on Tom Lawrence and Ross McCausland for Scott Wright and Todd Cantwell at the start of the second half and it re-energised the Govan side.

Sterling headed a Tavernier cross over the bar in the 54th minute before Dessers smacked the base of the post with a left-footed drive.

Robinson needed another avenue towards the leveller.

Ayunga and Jamieson were replaced by Mikael Mandron and debutant James Scott, who signed initially on loan from Exeter in midweek with the deal becoming permanent in the summer.

In the 79th minute there was a VAR check for a possible St Mirren penalty for a handball in the Gers box following a corner but no action was taken.

A terrific block from Ibrox defender John Souttar denied Alex Gogic a strike on goal and, from the resultant corner, James Bolton headed off the post.

Philippe Clement praised his revamped Rangers side for their second-half response against Sparta Prague which earned a valuable Europa League point.

With Borna Barisic and Dujon Sterling injured and Ridvan Yilmaz not in the European squad, the new Gers boss had no natural left-back available which meant a change to a back-three with prolific attacker Abdallah Sima playing left wing-back.

The visitors were fortunate to go into the break with their goal intact as Sparta dominated but there was a gradual improvement in the second half with substitute Danilo having a shot tipped on to the bar by Peter Vindahl late in the game which ended goalless.

Clement said: “The second half was much better. In the end it was a game that was in the balance, the first half for Sparta, the second half for us.

“But I am happy with the reaction in the second half. It has been a very special week, losing three left full-backs and because of that we had to change the system and doing that with two training sessions is very difficult for any team in the world.

“If you have time to prepare on those things it is different but that was not the case.

“So I am really happy after showing images at half-time, where the spaces were and what we had to do, that it was much better in the second half where we dominated in the chances and in the end we could say we could win the game because there were two really great saves from the goalkeeper.

“It is a very important point. Getting points away from home is really important but I am a winner, I want to win always and I want the team to have the same mentality.

“I saw it after the game, they were disappointed that they didn’t win and that is the mentality we need in the next couple of months but in the circumstances we can be happy with a point against a team that plays really good football, a team with a lot of quality.

“The reaction in the second half was good and we need to build on that.”

Rangers are now on four points from three Group C fixtures ahead of Sparta Prague’s visit to Ibrox on November 9 albeit Clement’s focus is on the visit of Hearts in the cinch Premiership on Sunday.

The Belgian, whose tenure at Ibrox began with a 4-0 cinch Premiership win over Hibernian at the weekend, highlighted the performance of Sima, on loan from Brighton, saying: “Sima played a really important role as wing-back, which he is not used to playing and he did a great job defensively for the team.

“We want to see a team fight for each other until the edge and over the edge to keep clean sheets and that is two clean sheets in a row and if you do that you take a lot of points in the season but I don’t want a team that only play for clean sheets and only defends to keep clean sheets.

“I want a team that plays good football and creates chances like they showed in the second half.”

Rangers played second fiddle to Sparta Prague for most of their Europa League clash in the Czech Republic before leaving with a point in a goalless draw.

Philippe Clement’s tenure as Gers boss began with a convincing 4-0 win over Hibernian at Ibrox on Saturday but he had to rely on keeper Jack Butland to keep the home side at bay in the first half of the Group C match in which the visitors lacked zip.

There was a marked improvement in the final 20 minutes where Brazilian substitute Danilo hit the bar but Sparta will wonder how they did not win this game early on.

Rangers beat Real Betis 1-0 at Ibrox on match day one before a shock 2-1 defeat by Aris Limassol in Cyprus and are now on four points ahead of Sparta Prague’s visit to Ibrox on November 9, albeit Clement’s focus will first turn to the visit of Hearts on Sunday.

The new Gers boss will have learned more about his players in Prague then he did against Hibs at the weekend and he may have to reassess the way forward.

With Borna Barisic and Dujon Sterling injured and former Gers boss Michael Beale not including Ridvan Yilmaz in the European squad, Clement had no  natural left-back available and had to call on the services of centre-back Ben Davies and change to a back-three with prolific attacker Abdallah Sima playing left wing-back, while Scott Wright made way for fully-fit Todd Cantwell.

The visitors struggled with the change of system.

The Czech champions showed their intent early on and Butland had to makes two great saves within seconds after the ever-dangerous Veljko Birmancevic waltzed into the Gers box to get a shot away before Qazim Laci latched on to the rebound.

Hard-working Sparta were quick and fluid and as they continued to probe the Gers rearguard Laci volleyed just inches wide from the edge of the box uin the 20th minute.

Rangers were offering almost nothing going forward.

When Ibrox midfielder Nico Raskin carelessly gave possession away at the edge of the box on the half-hour mark Butland was required to make another save from Laci’s drive, then Birmancevic hit the side netting with a close-range effort .

Still Sparta kept coming and when Butland parried a powerful drive from Matej Rynes, Gers midfielder John Lundstram got in front of Birmancevic to deny him a tap-in from six yards.

Lundstram’s wayward shot before the break was the only effort on goal from Rangers who needed a vast improvement in the second half.

Dessers had a half chance when Cantwell’s inadvertent pass came over his shoulder in the Sparta box but he was too slow to react and keeper Peter Vindahl gathered easily.

However, the Czech side remained much more dangerous.

In the 55th minute Davies headed away an effort from Martin Vitik two yards from goal then Sparta striker Jan Kuchta missed the target from close range.

Wright took over from Cantwell and in the 72nd minute, as Rangers began to edge forward more, he fired high over the bar from the edge of the box, before Danilo took over from the ineffective Cyriel Dessers.

Rangers at last began to play.

Soon afterwards Vindahl made a good save from a Sam Lammers drive and then tipped a Danilo shot on to the crossbar to ensure the spoils were shared.

Philippe Clement believes immediate improvement is required from Rangers for their Europa League clash with Sparta Prague on Thursday night.

The Belgian began his tenure as Light Blues boss with a convincing 4-0 cinch Premiership win over Hibernian at Ibrox on Saturday.

Clement was pleased enough with the first performance of his new team but will be looking for more in the Czech Republic as Rangers look to get back on the European track following the 2-1 loss to Aris Limassol earlier in the month.

The shock defeat in Cyprus negated a fine 1-0 home win over Spanish side Real Betis, with all four Group C sides on three points going into matchday three.

The Gers manager – without a natural left-back as Borna Barisic and Dujon Sterling are injured and Ridvan Yilmaz is not in the European squad – said: “We need to show a better level than on Saturday because this is a better team.

“They are really good on the ball, good quality players, good structure, good coach, and they are at home which is also different.

“So the whole team needs to be on their toes but I saw good signals in the last two days in training that everybody is up for a great European evening and you know in those evenings you need to be very focused, very concentrated and you need to take your moments.”

The former Belgium defender recalled a good night from two decades ago when he entered the Letna Stadium following the journey from Scotland.

A 1-0 win for the Red Devils in the 2002 World Cup finals play-off against the Czech Republic on November 14, 2001 booked Belgium’s place in South Korea and Japan with a 2-0 aggregate victory.

Asked about his wide European experience while at Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco, Clement said: “It is good to have experience and to know what are the important things in these evenings.

“It is also evenings I like and love, all the vibe around European games, different places, different stadiums.

“And I also had a really good feeling when I went on to the pitch .

“I said to Todd Cantwell when I came in the stadium I recognised the stadium because more than 20 years ago we qualified here with Belgium for the 2002 World Cup, so evenings like that are special.”

Clement, who played with Sparta Prague boss Brian Priske at Club Brugge, will have dig into his squad to plug the hole at left-back.

Barisic went off injured after 10 minutes against Hibs to be replaced by Yilmaz, left out of the European squad by former boss Michael Beale, and with Sterling also injured, right-back Adam Devine or centre-back Ben Davies may be called upon to do a job for the Govan side.

Clement was keeping his cards close to his chest but said: “I look for solutions and it will be another player who will not play in his normal position, to fill that position and do the job for the team.

“You can keep on being negative but someone needs to step in and help the team.

“We hope to get Borna back towards the weekend or at least next week. It is not really a big one but the timing is really bad because Ridvan is not on the list, a decision made before my time so I can’t do anything about that. Dujon is injured also a lot of things have come together.”

Dujon Sterling insists he is bringing a “winning mentality” to Rangers as he teams up again with Michael Beale.

The 23-year-old defender officially joined the Light Blues from Chelsea on a four-year deal on July 1.

Sterling began his career at the Stamford Bridge club – where he was first coached by the Rangers boss – and had loans spells with Coventry, Wigan, Blackpool and Stoke.

The former England Under-20 player had “quite a few clubs” interested in signing him this summer but he opted to join Beale who is revamping the Gers squad.

Speaking before Rangers’ trip to Germany for a pre-season training camp, which he missed with a knock reportedly not deemed serious, Sterling said: “The first time I ever met him (Beale) I was about seven or eight. At Chelsea you start in development at six and you do that for two years then you join the academy at under-eight.

“He was head of south London – I am from north London – and he was dealing with the under-14s and I was under-13 and I used to play one (year) up with his boys’ age group.

“That’s when I first got coached by him.

“At Chelsea, everything was about winning. You couldn’t take second place. We always had to win and I feel it here as well. You need to win.

“None of my loans have been with winning teams. You have had to dig deep.

“So I have got that mentality, I have the winning mentality and it is now putting them both together to create something here to get the next trophy.”

Sterling, primarily a right-back but who can play on the left, will in the first instance battle with Rangers captain James Tavernier for a starting place but is not fazed by the prospect.

He said: “It is about competing together but I am not just tied down to one role.

“I can play many roles so I don’t fear Tav being the captain, it is about competition.

“You need competition all over the pitch, that’s how everyone will get better. No one slips up, that’s how you stay a winning team and you need that the whole season, plus there is more than one game per week.

“I like to prioritise on my defending. It is really important.

“A lot of defenders now, right-backs, left-backs, they get judged on their stats up the pitch but defensively they are not great.

“So I like to do my defending, win my one-to-one battles and when the chance arrives to go forward, do that and help the team but knowing that my team-mates and manager has trust in me to be able to defend.”

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