Noel Whelan claims it is “impossible” for Jermain Defoe to keep up with the intense demands at Rangers after his latest injury setback.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Premiership hitman believes time may have finally taken its toll on the veteran forward.

As quoted by the Herald, Gerrard revealed that the 37-year-old had suffered a “small setback” in trying to recover from the hamstring injury which has kept him sidelined for the opening games of the season.

Whelan insists that Defoe is not going to be able to push as hard as he once did or face the possibility of picking up yet more injury problems.

Whelan told Football Insider: “I’ve always said that when you’ve had such a gruelling career, not just domestic but international as well, he’s always been a regular for pretty much everyone he’s played for, it’s difficult at the back end of your career to keep yourself fit.

“Picking up little injuries, little niggles, little knocks – you can’t keep a player at that 100 per cent level of fitness and intensity that’s required these days, to play when you get to a certain age, it’s impossible.

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“As much as our head wants us to and tells us we can, our body soon tells us no. Those years at the top-flight, through your early years and back into the later year of the career have taken its toll.

“The harder you push, the quicker you’ll pick up injuries at these levels, trying to keep up with these young lads. The level and the intensity of the game now is not easy.” 

Defoe played a total of 32 times and scored 17 goals for Rangers last season.

However, he did miss the majority of the Gers’ games from February onwards as a result of a calf injury.

In other Rangers news, Darren Bent claims the Gers could have a “big advantage” with a potentially “massive” SPL development.