Steven Gerrard lifts lid on Alfredo Morelos' happiness at Rangers - and provides Nikola Katic update

Steven Gerrard believes Alfredo Morelos is “probably the happiest I've seen him over the course of the last three years” and is looking forward to unleashing the striker against Hibs this afternoon.

Alfredo Morelos.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Alfredo Morelos. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The forward has scored in every SPFL Premiership game he’s played since the last controversial clash between the sides back in January and the retrospective ban that followed.

But he’s since won a league title and opened his Old Firm goal account with his 55th SPFL strike. Perhaps it’s no wonder he’s smiling.

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Yet quotes emanating from the striker’s Colombian homeland described “difficulties” between manager and player which have since been resolved – but they came as news to Gerrard when pointed out to him earlier this week.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (right) with Alfredo Morelos as he is substituted during a Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Rangers at Easter Road, on January 27, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

"Alfredo has been interviewed lately talking about the difficulties we have had – but I am not aware of them because they haven't been any difficulties for me,” said Gerrard.

“I have said he has been a challenge because he hasn't always perfect but he has been a pleasure to work with.”

That challenge has been maximising the Colombian’s potential – a task that Gerrard has taken on and, at times, taken a hard line in discipline, but it has reaped rewards with Morelos’ smile celebrating the league championship and now just seven goals off hitting a century in light blue.

“I think he is really proud to be a champion and a league winner here and hopefully it has given him the hunger to go on and achieve many more things with the team. I’m delighted he has finally got a reward for all the goals he has scored and all the top performances he has put in as a player,” the manager said.

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos (R) and captain James Tavernier watch on during a Scottish Cup Third Round tie between Rangers and Cove Rangers at Ibrox Stadium, on April 04, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“I suppose some of the things I have imposed on him in terms of fines and suspensions or certain things I have made him do to try and get himself into better physical shape have been difficult for him, but they haven't been for me.

“I treat all players the same with certain standards every player has to abide by and if you don't then you're probably not going to like what’s coming your way, so I certainly understand his comments in the interview and where he's coming from.

“But in terms of the relationship, I have never had a difficult day because I have loved every minute of working with him - I still do and I hope he stays around for a long time.

“He's happy at the moment. He's smiling, fit and available for Sunday's game and I am looking forward to seeing him play.”

One player who Gerrard is currently taking a different tact with when it comes to physical condition though, is Niko Katic.

The Croatian is making steady progress in recovering from a knee ligament injury but there “are still hurdles” to overcome, the manager revealed.

Katic began running during the week and his body’s response to the exercise will now be assessed.

“It’s an injury you have to be very patient with,” added Gerrard. “It’s career threatening. There can be no corners cut.

“He has started to jog which is a big step forward so we now see how the knee reacts to that load, but the dream for us is to have Katic available for pre-season training.”

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