Rangers striker Jermain Defoe has backed his ‘friend’ Alfredo Morelos to come back from his omission against Hearts.
Morelos was dropped for the 1-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final loss after returning 24 hours late from a brief trip home to Colombia.
Morelos’ strike partner Defoe returned from a calf injury to start against Hearts and addressed the situation with Morelos after the loss.
Defoe said: “It is a difficult one for me to sit here and talk about Alfredo. With something so personal, I just feel it is better to keep it in the dressing room.
“I am not going to sit here and criticise one of our players because, at the end of the day, he is my friend. I don’t think he would do that to me.
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“Away from all of that, we were focused on the game and we came to Tynecastle confident from midweek.
“Alfredo didn’t play on Wednesday night and the performance was one of our best – especially away from home.
“It is not always easy to go somewhere like that in Europe, put in a performance and actually win. It is not one player’s fault.
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“I don’t know what the manager said but I am not going to sit here and talk about one player or any individual because I don’t think it is fair.”
Expanding on the circumstances surrounding Morelos’ disciplinary breach, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard said: “Alfredo came to me 10 days or so ago.
“He said his mum wasn’t feeling right so he asked for permission to go back to Colombia which I granted him at the right time.
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“He left on Sunday after the game because he was suspended (for Braga). I looked at him in the eye and said: 'You need to be back on Wednesday'.
“And he said, ‘Okay, I really appreciate that’. He returned 24 hours late and he missed one of the key preparation days into this game.
“I decided to go with people who had done the full preparation and were desperate to be available for today.”
- Rangers FC
- Alfredo Morelos
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