A GRIM-FACED Steven Gerrard admits he “can’t defend” Alfredo Morelos any more after the Rangers striker was red-carded for the FIFTH time this season during the 2-1 loss to Celtic at Parkhead yesterday.
The controversial Colombian hitman was banished for thumping an elbow into Hoops skipper Scott Brown’s face in the 31st minute of an explosive derby encounter.
Morelos has been ordered off for similar incidents against Aberdeen double-act Scott McKenna and Graeme Shinne during a stormy campaign.
Gerrard, speaking to Rangers TV, said: “He’ll be punished internally and we’ll move forward.
“The reality is if you raise your arm, you leave yourself wide open. Obviously, he’s been provoked in the first place, but it’s happened on too many occasions now.
“I’ve gone above and beyond – I’ve backed Alfredo more than enough and I can’t defend him any more.”
Morelos has been sent off three times against the Dons this term as well as the Europa League tie against Russian side FC Ufa and now Celtic.
Gerrard added: “I learned a lot about my players today in terms of who’s with me, who’s prepared to roll their sleeves up, especially when the challenge got tougher.
“When the dust settles, I’m sure I’ll be proud of a lot of the performance, but the reality is we’ve lost a big, important game and it’s difficult to take. I think it was there for the win, never mind the draw.
“It’s frustrating to be standing here and it’s tough to take, but there was a lot to be proud of, a lot of character shown today, but you get nothing for that.”
Celtic boss Neil Lennon denied that Brown’s flicking of his opponent’s leg was a pre-planned attempt to rouse the Colombian’s temper.
He said: “It wasn’t premeditated. You’d need to ask Alfredo Morelos why he keeps doing it because he’s a great player, but he’s obviously got major discipline problems.”
Morelos, who has never scored against the Parkhead side, faces a four-game suspension which will effectively just about end his season with only seven league matches left to play.
Team-mate Ryan Kent, caught on film punching Brown in the immediate aftermath of the second goal, is also in line for a ban and Andy Halliday, booked for a second time during the fracas at the final whistle, will also be sidelined.