Steven Gerrard will go into his 50th European tie as Rangers boss believing Lyon are "arguably the best" team his side will have faced so far.

The Light Blues host the Ligue 1 outfit in their Europa League Group A opener at Ibrox on Thursday night.

Since Gerrard took over as Gers manager in 2018, he has garnered a record of 25 wins, 16 draws and eight defeats against European opposition and rates French side Lyon, bossed by Peter Bosz, who guided Bayer Leverkusen to victory over the Scottish Champions in the last-16 of the Europa League in 2020, as top-class.

"They are arguably the best," said Gerrard, who confirmed that defender Filip Helander has had surgery on a knee problem which will keep him out for "the foreseeable future" and that centre-back Connor Goldson is available again after Covid-19 isolation.

"At full strength, Lyon are very much a Champions League team with Champions League-calibre players, they have a manager who got this job on the back of doing ever so well as the Bayer Leverkusen manager.

"He has been here before, he knows what we are about so this is a real big test tomorrow and there is no doubt about it we have to be at our best and that goes for both sides of the game.

"We have to have a high level of focus and concentration tomorrow because if you don't against these teams you can be punished and punished very quickly so it is a real good test and challenge.

"But we have to have our own confidence and belief that we can play at this level, we can compete and at the right times during the game we have to show bravery that we can hurt the opposition as well.

"We are excited, we are looking forward to it but we know the size of the challenge and it is arguably the biggest we have had as a group."

Gerrard is reading little into the news that Lyon captain Moussa Dembele, the former Celtic striker, will not travel through injury.

He said: "I think this club and this team knows more than most the abilities and quality that he possesses.

"He has obviously started reasonably well and he has gone to Lyon and built on his career at Celtic, gone to the next step into one of the top-five leagues in the world and produced so I have a lot of respect for the player in terms of his technical quality and ability.

"But I don’t really get involved in opinions of whether Lyon will be weaker or stronger because they have players capable of coming in, they have talent all over the pitch, especially in the front-four positions.

"So it would be very naive for me to think Lyon are going to be any weaker just because one player is missing."

Michail Antonio has already scored four goals this season

Dinamo Zagreb have singled out Michail Antonio as West Ham's dangerman ahead of their Europa League opener.

David Moyes’ side have flown to Croatia for their first group-stage outing following last season’s sixth-place finish.

Striker Antonio has carried on the goalscoring form which fired West Ham into Europe with four so far this season.

The 31-year-old would probably have been rested in Zagreb with Moyes set to rotate his squad, but a red card at Southampton on Saturday means he will instead sit out this Sunday’s game with Manchester United.

Dinamo defender Rasmus Lauritsen is therefore likely to have his hands full trying to keep the Hammers frontman quiet.

At Dinamo’s pre-match press conference, Lauritsen said: "Whenever you play against an opponent you haven’t met before, you try to prepare extra, and watch footage of his matches.

"He is a solid opponent, it will be a challenge for me. It will be fun to fight and I am looking forward to the match.

"I like to play against good opponents like in the Europa League, you can see how good you really are.

"They play physical football in England. For sure it will be a physical game tomorrow, but we showed before in Europe that we are good at handling these physical opponents."

Youri Tielemans (L) and Brendan Rodgers

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers insists he is relaxed about Youri Tielemans' future despite contract talks dragging on.

Midfielder Tielemans said this week he was keeping his options open while negotiations over a new deal continue.

He is tied to the King Power Stadium until 2023 and Rodgers said in February he wanted to keep the Belgium international at the Foxes long term.

They host Napoli in their Europa League opener and Rodgers remains calm about the ongoing talks with Leicester’s £35m record signing.

He said: "There’s no drama with it. It’s just the reality of the situation. It only becomes a problem to me if there’s a lack of commitment or there’s not the same intensity but that’s never been the case with Youri.

"It’s natural, he is a very talented player who is in discussions with the club and we’ll see where that takes us.

"I have no idea (why it is dragging on), I concentrate on the football and making sure he is the best player he can be, giving him the support, environment and culture to be that.

"He is a top-class professional and a joy to work with and while he is here – for however long that is – he will always give and I will always give the best to his development."

Rodgers has no fresh injury doubts for the Group C curtain-raiser but James Justin (knee) and Wesley Fofana (broken leg) remain long-term absentees.

The Foxes reached the last 16 of the competition last season before losing to Slavia Prague and Kasper Schmeichel believes they cannot afford to be afraid in their quest for success.

Two consecutive fifth-placed finishes in the Premier League and a historic first FA Cup triumph in May has raised expectations with Schmeichel looking for more progress.

He said: "We are in a very good place, we have had a lot of recent success but that means you have a choice to make. Are you content with that or do you want to progress and move on?

"That’s what this club wants to do. The club continues to show it in the backing of the training ground, the expansion of the stadium and the transfer market.

"The club is always looking to improve. That’s the most important thing to me, when you are in an organisation which has had success the hunger is still there.

"You cannot become complacent and timid. That’s when you take the foot off the gas. We have always got to be looking for what’s next. We can’t use the past for anything, that past is done.

"There are many steps we can still take, we are looking to improve every day and this season is another opportunity."

Napoli and Leicester are two of the favourites to win the competition, before those who drop out of the Champions League group stage try to join via the new play-off round.

The eight Europa League group winners progress automatically to the last 16 with the runners-up playing the eight third-placed teams in the Champions League groups.

Schmeichel added: "It’s never been our approach to look at others, we look at ourselves more than anything. When I look at our dressing room I have every reason to be supremely confident.

"There are top-class sides in this competition and others coming in from the Champions League. You can’t always say because you don’t know who is going to be coming into the competition."