Gerrard hails the improvement in Morelos’ behaviour ahead of Old Firm clash

Morelos’ injury-time header fired Gers into the Europa League group stages.

By Press Association Published: 31 August 2019 - 9.00am

UK

Football

Scotland

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has backed Alfredo Morelos to keep his cool and avoid another moment of Old Firm madness on Sunday.

The Colombian reaffirmed his importance to the Light Blues on Thursday night as his injury-time header fired Gers into the Europa League group stages.

That precious goal was his 10th in 11 games this season but his strike record in derby battles is woeful.

The 23-year-old has yet to find the net in nine appearances against Celtic and he was fined by his manager after getting himself sent off for a ridiculous swipe at Hoops skipper Scott Brown at Parkhead in April.

But Gerrard insists Morelos has learned from that incident and praised the South American for cleaning up his act ahead of this season’s first showdown with Neil Lennon’s team.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Ibrox clash, he said: “There’s definitely been signs of maturity and improvement in his behaviour.

“I think he’s trying everything he can to improve that department in his game.

“We’re doing everything we can and so are the players to help him. He’s still young and will still make mistakes moving forward.

“But since that moment there’s definitely been a marked improvement.

“We don’t want to take the fire and competitive edge away from him because we believe that’s a big part of his game.

“All we ask is that people give him a chance out there and treat him like everybody else gets treated.

“But I’m really proud of his behaviour so far.”

Gers skipper James Tavernier has promised to protect his team-mate from any of their bitter rivals’ wind-up attempts.

He said: “Players will try and intimidate him during the game, but it’s up to all us senior lads just to try and keep him cool.

“We want him to be that fiery character on the pitch. It always brings out the best in him but so far this season he has been channelling it really well so hopefully that continues.”

Gers fought to the end to see off Legia Warsaw on Thursday night as Morelos nodded home in added time.

It was a repeat of their late show against Kilmarnock on the opening day of the season when Connor Goldson powered home from a corner to get the Light Blues off to a winning start.

And Tavernier promised his team would battle all the way again to ensure they take the early bragging rights against Celtic.

“I think this just shows the resilience in the team,” said the right-back. “We’ve shown signs – in the Kilmarnock game – how we don’t stop until the final whistle and that was another big factor last night.

“We stick to the game plan and we wear teams down. We always create chances and we did that last night. The result is obviously a great boost for the squad and for the club.

“It’s obviously early, but we have started the season off really well and we always want to go into an Old Firm and get the three points no matter what. That’s our aim this Sunday.

“We have already hit the target of getting into the group stage of the Europa League, where we wanted to be. We now want to win our first Old Firm game.”