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Dropping Morelos is a real possibility, admits Gerrard

 

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Dried up: Alfredo Morelos has been struggling for goals since the winter break

Dried up: Alfredo Morelos has been struggling for goals since the winter break

Dried up: Alfredo Morelos has been struggling for goals since the winter break

Steven Gerrard admits he has got a major dilemma on his hands as he weighs up whether to stick by Rangers' Europa League talisman Alfredo Morelos.

The Colombian leapt to the top of the competition's scoring charts with six goals as he fired Gers through the group stages.

But the striker's goals have dried up since the winter break and that is a worry for Gerrard.

Now the Light Blues boss has confirmed he is considering handing Florian Kamberi a start when Bayer Leverkusen visit Ibrox for tonight's last-16 first-leg showdown.

"I think one thing's for sure, for us to have any chance of progression through this stage, we're going to need all our players on form and at it," said the Rangers manager. "They need to bring their best and max-out over the course of the 90 minutes. Alfredo is no different.

"I think Alfredo's aware of where his form is at. We're all aware of that. But we all know he's very capable at this level against this type of opposition.

"Him being at his best, taking chances for us, gives us a better chance of progressing. But I've got a decision to make with the No.9 position."

Morelos wrote his name into the history books when he added six group-stage goals to the eight he netted in qualifying to become the first player ever to grab 14 goals in European competition pre-Christmas.

But since returning from the January break, the 23-year-old has only scored against Hamilton and has now gone six games without adding to his 29-goal haul.

"I've seen him in better form," admitted Gerrard. "But I also see him working ever so hard to get himself back there.

"If he's picked - or whoever is picked for that No.9 role - we need a real selfless performance and we need the person to be tuned in to what we're looking for from a tactical point of view.

"No-one within this system can go off and do what they want because that can be really damaging to the team."

With Morelos suspended for the second leg of the previous round against Braga, it was on-loan Hibs ace Kamberi who led the line as Gers stunned the Portuguese outfit with a 1-0 win at the Estadio Municipal.

With Jermain Defoe ruled out with a calf injury, Gerrard hinted he could turn to the Swiss frontman again as he looks to down Peter Bosz's Bundesliga giants.

He said: "It's definitely on my mind. I think Kamberi has been a breath of fresh air whether it's been a cameo from the bench or when we've asked him to start.

"He's really tried to carry out what we've asked of him. He's brought energy to the team, and again at the weekend against Ross County you could see his impact with his sheer presence and selfless style.

"I've been really pleased with him. But over the course of both games I'm sure we're going to need Alfredo and Flo with the disappointment of not having Jermain as he'll miss both.

"Leverkusen are a fantastic team. I think anyone who is sitting in the top four of the Bundesliga, you have to respect instantly. The German league is one of the strongest in the world.

"This is a team that's competing with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig who have shown in the Champions League they can compete with the top teams in the Premier League.

"We know what we're dealing with, we know the challenge ahead of us."

Rangers vs Bayer Leverkusen

Europa League Round-of-16 First Leg

Ibrox, Tonight, 8pm

Belfast Telegraph