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Giovanni Van Bronckhorst backs Rangers to cope without injured Alfredo Morelos

Rangers v Borussia Dortmund – UEFA Europa League – Playoff – Second Leg – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst insists Rangers can cope with the loss of Alfredo Morelos after the Ibrox striker was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

The Colombian, who has scored 18 times in all competitions this term, has had an operation on a thigh injury sustained on international duty at the end of last month.

At the media conference ahead of the Europa League quarter-final first-leg clash against Braga in Portugal on Thursday night, Morelos’ absence for the rest of the campaign was the main issue.

Asked if he would be able to cope without his top scorer, the Dutchman said: “I believe so.

“Of course, it is a big blow to us because he is our striker and we now don’t have him any more this season. So, yeah, we are disappointed.

“But we know what the problem is, how long he’s out, and we have to move on. That’s the only thing we have to do now.

“Out of the five questions I’ve been asked, four of them have been about Morelos, so that means he is a very important player for us.

“But the reality is that he’s not here and we have to prepare for this game without him.

“That’s what we’ve done in the last few days and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Rangers lost 2-1 to Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday to fall six points behind their Old Firm rivals at the top of the cinch Premiership table with just six fixtures remaining.

And while there is some despondency among the Light Blues fans at the thought of losing their title back to their city rivals, Van Bronckhorst believes there is a  “big” European opportunity.

He said:  “It’s not often you play a quarter-final in Europe with the chance to reach the semi-finals. It’s not something that happens to many players.

“So we have to work hard and get the performances in tomorrow and then next week to overcome Braga.

“I think people were saying that it was the best draw we could have a couple of weeks ago.

“But I think Braga are a very good team, a very strong team. They won against Benfica last weekend, so that’s going to be difficult to overcome.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us, but we relish the chance to go into the semi-finals.

“We have to go out and perform well to get there after next week.

“In the last years the team performed really well, also with Steven (Gerrard) being involved in Europe after the winter break, which is also very good.

“Now we are one stage further and we will try to get into the semi-finals.

“It’s not very often a Scottish team can reach a semi-final in Europe so that means we are performing well in Europe and that’s what we want to continue and to overcome Braga as well, which will be very difficult.

“To reach a semi-final, there is all to play for and we go out tomorrow and next week to win this tie.”

With the league title looking like it will head to Celtic Park and an Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final still to play at Hampden Park later this month, Van Bronckhorst insists he needs no reminder of expectations at Ibrox.

The former Gers player said: “They (board) don’t have to explain the pressure in being manager of Rangers.

“I’ve been here as a player. I had the pressure when I was manager at Feyenoord. So the pressure is always there.

“Of course, you need to perform. I want to perform well with my team, the players want to perform well and that’s what we are trying to do and work hard for.

“Of course, in the end you want to have silverware. That’s why you work hard all season.

“That’s what we’re going to do until the end of the season.”

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