Rangers boss admits Alfredo Morelos blow for Celtic clash is 'a battle you can't win'

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has accepted the loss of Alfredo Morelos for the Old Firm showdown on February 2 as an inevitable consequence of the striker’s recent fine form.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst gives striker Alfredo Morelos a pat on the back as he is substituted during the 1-1 draw against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst gives striker Alfredo Morelos a pat on the back as he is substituted during the 1-1 draw against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Morelos has scored six goals in nine games since van Bronckhorst took charge of Rangers in November, earning him a recall to the Colombia squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina on January 28 and February 1.

It means Morelos will miss Rangers’ next three Premiership fixtures against Livingston at Ibrox on January 26, Ross County in Dingwall on January 29 and the potentially pivotal trip to Celtic Park.

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Van Bronckhorst is already without influential midfielder Joe Aribo, currently on Africa Cup of Nations finals duty with Nigeria and, depending on how far they progress in the tournament, he could also be missing until after the Old Firm clash.

“Obviously you want to have your full squad for every game but at this moment, we miss Aribo and Morelos,” said van Bronckhorst. “That’s not what you want but it’s the way it is.

“If you have international games during the league, it always gives you a difficult situation. Not only for me or the club but also for players because they are stuck in between playing for their country and their club.

“I know what the club means for Joe and Alfredo but as an international player, I also know how important it is to be successful for your national team. It’s a battle you can’t win as a player.

“Alfredo has been in really good form, especially the last months for me since I came in. I think he had a great development in every aspect of the game, so I’m really happy for him and also for Rangers that he has good momentum.

“When he is playing well, he gets called up for Colombia. So he won’t be with us for the coming weeks as he tries to qualify for Qatar at the end of the year.”

Kemar Roofe, who could be called up to the Jamaica squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Panama next week, is back in the Rangers squad for Friday night’s Scottish Cup tie against Stirling Albion at Ibrox after missing the last five games because of injury.

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