Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has admitted Alfredo Morelos was left out of their Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat to Hearts after returning back late from a trip to Colombia.
Gerrard could not hide his despair after the Gers suffered a 1-0 reverse in Edinburgh where Morelos had been a surprise omission from the matchday squad.
The manager had granted him permission to return to South America and care for his mother who was ill.
And he fully expected his talisman to be back in Glasgow on Wednesday but the striker returned a day late after promising he would be back.
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That forced Gerrard to leave him out of the starting line-up and – without the ineligible Flo Kamberi – had to opt for fringe man Greg Stewart up front.
Speaking soon after the Hearts loss Gerrard explained Morelos’ admission in more detail.
He said: ”Alfredo came to me 10 days ago or so and he said his mum wasn't feeling right, so he asked for permission to go back to Colombia, which I granted and said, 'at the right time you can go home and sort your family problems out'.
"He left on Sunday after the game [against St Johnstone] because he was suspended [for the Europa League victory in Braga].
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"I looked him in the eye and said, 'you've got to be back on Wednesday' and he said 'OK, I really appreciate that'.
"He returned 24 hours late and he missed one of the key preparation days into this game, so I decided to go with people who had done the full preparation, who were desperate to be available for today.
"This is a kid who I've loved and I still do love him. He's a top player who has scored a great volume of goals for us. But I think we all know, from time to time, what he does and what he's about.
"I couldn't forget players that are working ever so hard and were desperate for an opportunity today over people who have got discipline like that, I can't do it.
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“I wouldn't be true to myself."
Gerrard hinted that he would be considering his Rangers future after the defeat to Hearts, claiming he was feeling at his “lowest” since taking over at Ibrox.
He said: ”I’m very disappointed. It's the lowest I've felt since I've come to the club by a long way. The performance was nowhere near good enough.
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“The plan was to have a day off tomorrow,” he added. “I need to think hard about where we're at as a group.
“I need to do some real serious thinking over the next 24 and 48 hours.
“I’m feeling pain right now. I want to win here, I'm desperate to win here. Looking from the side today, I didn't get the impression that the feeling amongst my players was the same.”
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