Fresh or fed up - how will Alfredo Morelos react on his return to Rangers after Colombia's World Cup catastrophe?
As Steven Gerrard assesses the fall-out from the current international break when his Rangers squad reassemble later this week, he is likely to pay particular attention to Alfredo Morelos.
To say that the Colombian striker’s latest experience of life with his national team was a disappointment would be beyond understatement. Last Friday night, Morelos appeared as a 60th minute substitute as Colombia lost 3-0 to Uruguay in Barranquilla, their heaviest ever home defeat in a World Cup qualifier.
That disappointment was followed by a truly calamitous 6-1 reversal away to Ecuador on Tuesday evening, leaving Colombia well off the early pace in the South American standings on the road to Qatar 2022 and heaping pressure on their Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz.
Morelos watched the shocking defeat in Quito from the sidelines, an unused substitute as a shambolic performance unfolded. The other four strikers named in the squad by Queiroz were all involved – Porto’s Luis Diaz and Duvan Zapata of Atalanta starting the match while Luis Muriel, also of Atalanta, and Granada’s Luis Suarez came off the bench.
For the fiercely patriotic Morelos, his dismay at Colombia’s humiliation will be compounded by his frustration at being denied the opportunity to influence the outcome. The 24-year-old’s international career has yet to gather any significant momentum with just three starting appearances and one goal so far in earning 10 caps for his country.
After the previous international break in October, Rangers manager Gerrard observed that Morelos had returned from South America suffering from jet lag, influencing his decision to drop him to the bench for a couple of matches.
Gerrard left Morelos out of Rangers’ last game before the current round of internationals, the 8-0 win over Hamilton on November 8, and must now make a judgement on his leading striker’s physical and mental condition ahead of Sunday’s Premiership meeting with Aberdeen at Ibrox.
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