Steven Gerrard revealed he has held discussions with Jermain Defoe over the next step in the veteran striker’s career.

The 38-year-old veteran former England forward netted his first Old Firm goal in Sunday’s 4-1 derby rout at Ibrox to take his tally to 18 for the season.

Defoe’s current deal will run out next month and Gerrard has previously refused to rule out a player-coach role for the vastly-experienced hitman.

Sunderland have been linked with a move to take him back to the Stadium of Light if the Black Cats seal a return to the English Championship through the play-offs.

Gerrard, who signed his former international team-mate initially on loan from Bournemouth midway through his first season in charge, admitted they have held talks but refused to say if a contract had been offered.

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Speaking as he chatted with fans at a mental health initiative organised by shirt sponsors 32Red, the Gers boss said: “It goes without saying that Jermain Defoe is someone I have the ultimate respect and admiration for.

"He's been a wonderful player. He's had a wonderful career. To get him up here in the first place was something I was keen to do, because I knew he would help the group in the way he goes about his business. He's a top professional.

Jermain Defoe of Rangers celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal against Celtic
Jermain Defoe of Rangers celebrates scoring his teams fourth goal against Celtic

"We're in talks with Jermain at the moment about what's next for Jermain. But we want to be really respectful, we want to give him the time to make his own decisions.

"I think he's at a stage in his life where we'll listen to Jermain and see what he wants to do moving forward.

"We'll go from there. I don't think it's right for me to divulge right now what's been said from my point of view and from his. But we'll certainly respect Jermain in terms of his own decisions moving forward."