Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits it’s far from ideal that Alfredo Morelos won’t be available for the second Old Firm clash of the season given he has found his goal-scoring boots again.
The 25-year-old striker, who was named as the Premiership ‘Player of the Month’ for December after scoring four times last month, received a call-up to the Colombian national team earlier this week for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Argentina.
That has subsequently ruled Morelos out of the re-scheduled top-of-the-table showdown with Celtic at Parkhead on February 2.
Van Bronckhorst will also be without Joe Aribo for a vital run of games due to his involvement with Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations.
The Dutchman, who earned 106 international caps during his career, recognises the importance of representing your country and while pleased to see Morelos rewarded for his upturn in form, he believes the absence of key players during an important stage of their domestic season puts individuals in a difficult situation.
Van Bronckhorst said: “Alfredo’s been in really good form, especially in the last month since I came in. I think he had a great development in every aspect of the game, so I’m really happy for him, and also for Rangers, that he’s got good momentum.
“You see when he’s playing well that he’ll get called up for the Colombian national team, so he won’t be with us for the coming weeks as he tries to qualify for Qatar at the end of the year.
“Obviously you want to have your full squad for every game. In this moment we will missing (Joe) Aribo and now Morelos, so that’s not what you want but it’s the way it is.
“If you have International games during the league season it always gives you a difficult situation, not only for me and the club, but also for the players because they’re stuck between playing for their country and for their club.
“I know what the club means for Joe and for Alfredo but as a (former) international player, I also know how important it is to be successful for your national team.
“It’s a battle you can’t win as a player.”
With just 10 days remaining in the January transfer window, Van Bronckhorst has added two new recruits to his squad so far this month with New York City loanee James Sands impressing on his debut against Aberdeen.
John Souttar also signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Ibrox in the summer, with the Hearts centre-back set to bring his five-year stay at Tynecastle to an end.
Asked for an update on whether the Scotland international could link up with his squad now, Van Bronckhorst admitted: “I said before John is a Rangers player from next season onwards and nothing has changed on that front in the last couple of weeks.
“For this moment, he won’t be joining us but the window is still open for while so anything can happen.
“For me, it’s a little bit uncertain how the squad will look by the end of the month but you have to be prepared.”