Florian Kamberi’s unavailability for Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final at Hearts piles pressure on Rangers star Alfredo Morelos to deliver the goods.
Kamberi came off the bench to great effect at St Johnstone last weekend, scoring once and registering an assist. Then, deployed in Morelos’ absence in Braga in midweek, he often struggled to stay onside, but worked extremely hard and offered a good aerial threat.
However, he’s cup-tied for this evening’s trip to Tynecastle and therefore, can’t feature.
That means the goalscoring pressure is ramped up on Alfredo Morelos, who has had a disappointing start to 2020.
While there’s an ‘outside chance’ Jermain Defoe will make the squad [Rangers FC Twitter], unlike in Perth last week, El Bufalo doesn’t have the safety net of Kamberi from the bench.
It’ll be the Colombian’s job to lead the line and to look to provide the cutting edge that the Gers have so often lacked in domestic competition since the winter break.
After netting 28 times over the first half of the season, the 23-year-old has scored just once in eight outings since the break.
He has been unlucky on occasion. He hit the crossbar and had a goal harshly ruled out for a push during the defeat at Kilmarnock, while he was wrongly flagged offside when in the act of scoring against Livingston a few days later.
However, there’s no doubt he’s been off colour. His first touch and link-up play have lacked the quality and sharpness of earlier in the season, and he looks low on confidence in front of goal.
After missing the trip to Braga through suspension, though, he’s had a chance to recharge his batteries and is coming back with a point to prove.
He has a strong record against the Jambos, with six goals in eight appearances, and he wasn’t involved in January’s Tynecastle defeat.
It’s a big game for both the player and the club this evening, with the Scottish Cup now the best chance of silverware this season. If Morelos fires, the Gers should progress.