Steven Gerrard admits he was left with an easy decision to drop Alfredo Morelos for the win over Kilmarnock after insisting he only wants to work with players focused on Rangers.
The Colombian was missing entirely as Gers moved clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-0 win over Alex Dyer’s men at Ibrox.
The striker reportedly asked to be left out of the squad amid continuing speculation over his future – and his manager was happy to oblige as he handed his slot to Kemar Roofe.
Gerrard admitted on Friday that Morelos was not “looking himself” following Gers’ decision to reject a £16million offer from Ligue 1 giants Lille.
But the transfer speculation made no difference to Ryan Kent as he showed suitors Leeds what they are missing out on as he capped off the victory after Roofe had opened his Gers account on his first start five minutes into the second half.
Asked how hard it was to leave out Morelos, Gerrard said: “For me it was pretty simple.
“We need players who work hard every single day and who are ready and focused for the challenges coming up.
“Speculation at a club like Rangers is normal. It is not ideal but you have to accept it. The most important thing is the players stay hungry and stay focused.
“I only want players who are hungry for the shirt and want to do a job.
“I want it to be difficult in every position. I want two good players in every position fighting for their places.
“If I see people who are not focused or who have taken their eye off the ball and not really, really hungry to get this football club results, I have to make easy decisions and Alfredo made it easy for me this week.”
Gers are yet to hit top gear in attack but their strength in defence cannot be denied after a starting the season with a fifth clean sheet in a row – a feat last achieved by a Light Blues line-up in 1929.
Having trudged through the first period, Gers roared back from the break with Roofe hitting the post before sweeping home from a Borna Barisic cross in the 50th minute. Kent then buried the clincher with 13 minutes remaining.
“I’m very pleased with the clean sheet and the players deserve a lot of credit for the record,” said Gerrard. “We have been working very hard on the training pitch and we defended well.
“We are doing the dirty stuff behind the ball really well. The players have applied themselves ever so well and they are getting their rewards for it.
“The pleasing thing for me is not just Kemar’s goal, it is the cleverness and the linking of play. He has a good all-round game and he is starting to look a lot sharper.
“He is reaching full fitness and with another two or three games he will be really ready to go.”
Killie have dropped into the bottom two after opening the new campaign with just two points from the first five games.
But Dyer denied his side lacked ambition after failing to tests the hosts.
“No, not at all, no chance,” he said. “We have honest professionals in there who give 100 per cent every time.
“We have come up against a side who are playing well at the moment and are top of the league.
“Obviously we would like more points on the board. But the performances have been decent and we need to turn them into results.”
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