Rangers manager Steven Gerrard claims Alfredo Morelos gets “kicked from pillar to post” and protects himself like any young striker would.
Gerrard declared the 22-year-old is often the victim of unpunished fouls after Celtic reacted with surprise to the lack of retrospective action against the Colombian following their recent defeat at Ibrox.
Morelos – who has been sent off three times this season –escaped any card or further action after incidents with Scott Brown, Anthony Ralston and Ryan Christie during Rangers’ 1-0 win.
But Gerrard claimed one of his players was lucky to avoid serious injury.
When asked about Celtic’s statement, Gerrard told reporters at Rangers’ Tenerife training camp: “I’m not really that interested, it’s nothing we can control. That is Celtic’s business.
“But what I would like to say is a lot of things go missed or unnoticed on Alfredo Morelos. He gets kicked from pillar to post.
“He is a marked man because players don’t like playing against him and players target him. He has to put up with an awful lot. The kid is young, he is trying to learn and grow, he is trying to protect himself. He is only doing what any young striker would try and do when he is targeted.
“There is no doubt he is targeted, because he is a super talent. But he should see it as a compliment because I certainly do.”
Gerrard added: “There were things in the Old Firm that were missed from our behalf, especially on Daniel Candeias. He was lucky not to come away with a serious injury.
“But we have moved on from the Old Firm. We’re happy with the result and we’ve got nothing else to say. Our focus is on Kilmarnock.”
Rangers have been joined in Tenerife by Steven Davis and Jermain Defoe following their loan moves.
Gerrard said: “Having analysed the squad in the first half of the season, I felt we needed some help, more experienced players, players with that know-how, players who can handle our demanding crowd, players who are used to playing in big games and are also ready for the stage of the season we are at.”
Gerrard added on Sky Sports: “To be honest, Bournemouth are the key to getting Jermain here, they’ve been super helpful.
“I must say a huge thank you to Eddie Howe, who’s been very understanding. I think he’s been very respectful to Jermain and his career and I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
“Jermain gets the move he wants, he gets to play. He wants to score goals, we can provide that stage for him.
“The fans are super excited and so are the staff to work with him. I know more than most what he’s about, what he’s capable of.”
Gerrard is confident Morelos can form a productive partnership with Defoe. “People talk about his age which is fine but I know the player, I know the professional,” added the Rangers manager.
“I know he’s in a very young body, he doesn’t drink, he works exceptionally hard.
“I met him recently and he’s in fantastic shape so a lot of work’s gone into it from myself and Mark [Allen, director of football].
“We’ve been monitoring the situation for a long time but it wasn’t until of late that we approached Bournemouth and they’ve been super helpful.”
Gerrard now has three strikers to choose from along with Morelos and Kyle Lafferty.