Rangers manager Graeme Murty believes Alfredo Morelos will line up against Celtic on Sunday with a ‘chip on his shoulder’ which can help him break his scoring duck in Old Firm fixtures.
Morelos is Rangers’ top scorer this season, with 17 goals in 34 appearances, and also the leading marksman in the Scottish Premiership with 13 league goals to his credit.
But the 21-year-old Colombian striker has netted only three times against current top six clubs so far. He has drawn a blank in both previous outings against Celtic, missing particularly notable chances in the 0-0 draw at Parkhead at the end of December.
Morelos endured a frustrating 90 minutes in last Sunday’s 4-1 Scottish Cup win over Falkirk at Ibrox, passing up a number of opportunities to score. Despite the victory, which saw Jason Cummings score a hat-trick for Rangers, Morelos slumped to the turf at full-time in an expression of dismay with his personal display.
Murty is hopeful Morelos will use those feelings as motivation to shine at Ibrox on Sunday when Rangers will seek a win which would cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the table to three points. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with a centre forward possibly going into a big, big game with a bit of a chip on his shoulder and a bit of a point to prove,” said Murty.
“Alfredo is a centre forward and centre forwards who don’t score aren’t a happy animal, they are just not.
“He got some good opportunities (against Falkirk) but I’ve always said that he’s going to miss chances because he keeps getting in there. We’re going to create chances for him, we just need to get his ratio up. I’ve said that before when he was scoring - we can get his ratio up, we can get him sharper and we can help him get more clinical.
“But I think the frustration in him is because he’s just desperate to score and desperate to do well, which is a good thing for me.”
Murty admits he is having sleepless nights in the build-up to the weekend visit of the Scottish champions but insists they are not caused by any anxiety regarding his starting line-up.
Speaking to RangersTV, he added: “I am not worried about it (team selection), I have been up all night because that is just my thing. I watched the Falkirk game back and I had a look at a few things, a few things that were concerning me and annoying me.
“I am quite relaxed regarding the weekend. I haven’t actually looked forward to the weekend yet, I am sure I will have a few people knocking on my door saying that they want to be involved and Jason Cummings will probably be at the front of that queue.
“People have been desperate to get on the pitch, people are desperate to impress and I think this game coming up is the game that everyone wants to be involved in.
“I have no doubts that whoever I put on the pitch will be motivated and ready to go, it is just making sure we get the blend right.
“The competition for places is, I think, something that this team has been built upon in the past. I look at the great squads who have all played in this game and you knew if you weren’t playing well or the manager wanted to change it for a tactical reason then he could go change it and the person coming in would be right on top of their game – we want that here.
“We want that level of competition; we want being striving and pushing to get into the team.
“The positive thing for me is that I have got people bringing positive energy to the group and that is what I have challenged them to do.
“It is really boring, and I keep on saying it, but the people playing possibly have a harder job than the ones who aren’t.”