Rangers defender Gareth McAuley has urged Alfredo Morelos to display greater self control after the striker’s latest bout of indiscipline earned him another suspension.
The Colombian international was sent off for two bookable offences as Rangers lost 1-0 at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday night and dropped back to second place in the Scottish Premiership table.
Morelos has now collected 12 yellow cards and three red cards this season, albeit one of his dismissals was later reduced to a caution on appeal.
The 22 year-old was already suspended for Rangers’ next league fixture against Dundee at Dens Park this Sunday under the Scottish FA’s totting-up disciplinary procedures. His red card against Aberdeen means he will also sit out the game against Hamilton Accies at Ibrox on 16 December.
Veteran defender McAuley insists Morelos, top scorer for Rangers with 17 goals this season, will not be singled out for blame by his team-mates, who appreciate that his aggressive streak is a key component of his game.
But McAuley says Morelos has to learn to stay out of trouble when placed in the kind of situation he faced on Wednesday. The Northern Irishman said; “We are not pointing fingers or anything like that.
“Yeah, it made it tougher when Alfredo went off. He plays on the edge and has won us games before. People play on the edge, you have to play on the edge to be a winner. There’s no getting away from that.
“But you also have a responsibility to your team-mates to have some self control. If you are in a situation when you are on a yellow card, you need to make sure you stay on the pitch for your team-mates. The biggest disappointment is that we now lose him for a couple of games.”
Rangers have now received eight red cards in total this season and manager Steven Gerrard was exasperated that his pre-match warning over a need to improve discipline went unheeded. McAuley says the Rangers players must now take collective responsibility to address the problem.
“The manager has put a marker down that we need to be better as a group,” he added. “Playing with 10 men, the number of times it has happened, can take its toll on the players – especially with the number of games some of the lads have played already.
“You lose important players for important games, you lose matchwinners for big games and that’s a frustration for all of us.
“It is a good dressing room at Rangers. It is well policed around the training ground and in the dressing room. We have spoken about discipline even when the manager wasn’t in the dressing room. So it has been touched on but we need to nail that down because it could possibly cost us.”