The confirmation that Morelos has suffered a potentially season-ending calf injury while on international duty with Colombia – the full extent of the damage will be known after further examination by a specialist – has cast a shadow over Rangers’ preparations for a demanding April fixture list which begins with Sunday’s crucial Old Firm showdown at Ibrox.
Van Bronckhorst, however, believes his squad is strong enough to compensate for Morelos’ absence and has backed the credentials of Kemar Roofe to rise to the challenge he now faces in leading the line for Rangers.
The 29-year-old Jamaican international has an impressive strike rate of 30 goals in his 66 appearances since joining the club in a £3.5 million move from Anderlecht in the summer of 2020 and actually outscored Morelos as Rangers won their first top flight title in a decade last season.
As they look to defend their crown, the onus will now be on Roofe to add to his tally of 12 goals in the current campaign.
“Without Morelos, we have a big squad,” said the Rangers manager. “We have Kemar who has played more games in the last weeks. He was very important, scored some important goals, had two great assists against Dundee. So he is definitely one of the players who has to step up and make sure that he is getting the performance in for the team to help us as a club.
“Of course Morelos is an important player for us, but we have a big challenge ahead of us in the coming weeks and months, so we have to be ready and make sure the ones who are able to play are well prepared.
“We have to wait for the coming days because he (Morelos) will be assessed longer. But it will be a long-term injury. We don’t know how long yet but we won’t have him back in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure.”
Van Bronckhorst makes no attempt to downplay the significance of Sunday’s match as Rangers seek a victory which would draw them level on points with Celtic at the top of the table and is backing his team to deliver the response their fans want after the 3-0 defeat at Parkhead in February.
“We need to win, no matter what,” he said. “I’ve seen Celtic play a lot of times this season and I’ve watched back the game we played in February.
“We didn’t play well, especially the first half where we had the option and the space to play our normal game – but we didn’t have the patience and the calmness to play our possession game.
“That’s one thing we’ve learned after the last game, this team is much more controlled and much more confident with the ball. That’s what we need on Sunday against a strong opponent.
“We’ve shown we’re strong at home. I’m confident my team will perform well on Sunday and have a better performance than we had a couple of months ago.”
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