Alfredo Morelos does not need to break his Old Firm duck to get Steven Gerrard’s seal of approval, the Rangers boss has insisted.
The Colombian has been in red hot form with 25 goals in all competitions this season.
But the 23-year-old has not managed to hit the same heights in derby duels with Celtic since making his Ibrox move in the summer of 2017.
Morelos has faced down Gers’ bitter rivals on 10 occasions but has yet to find the net.
His next chance comes in Sunday’s Betfred Cup final but Gerrard insists the striker – who was sent off five times last season – could draw another blank and still get his plaudits if he plays a part in ending Gers’ eight-year hunt for a major honour.
The Light Blues manager said: “From a behaviour point of view, Alfredo is in a different space for sure.
“When he played last year he was still in magnificent form and proved he was capable of scoring goals against any opposition.
“He’s carried that onto the season and scoring regularly at Europa League level. He’s in great form and Sunday’s an opportunity to prove he can score against Celtic. I’m sure he’s very excited about that opportunity.
“All Alfredo needs to do is make sure he’s a winner at the weekend. If we win without Alfredo scoring, that’s fine. He’ll still get the same amount of praise from me.”
James Tavernier chalked up his 100th game as Rangers captain against Hearts last week and is now set to lead the Ibrox men out for the first time in a cup final.
Gerrard’s decision to hand the Englishman the armband was not met with universal acclaim from the Light Blue legions but Tavernier is grateful for the opportunity.
And now he wants to repay that show of faith by handing Gerrard his first trophy since making the move into management.
He said: “It’s a final against Celtic so I would definitely say it’s one of my biggest games as captain.
“I’ve enjoyed the responsibility and the role since the gaffer gave me the armband. It makes me want to do better, especially for myself, the club and the boys.
“It brings more attention but I relish the pressure. I just want to repay the gaffer, the lads and the fans with silverware. We have to deliver. The fans have waited long enough.
“Certainly some of the boys in the changing room, including myself, have waited long enough too and it’s time we delivered.
“Being our rivals it obviously hurts you (when you see Celtic lifting trophy after trophy). I didn’t like losing when I was five years old so I certainly don’t like it now.
“The boys in the changing room don’t like it either. We’re all strong mentally. We’re all winners and want to win things. We need to go out on the day and want it more.”
Tavernier says Gers need to be ready to fight all the way at Hampden after they meekly surrendered against the Hoops in this season’s opening Old Firm battle back in September.
He said: “We need to compete more. I don’t feel we competed to the best of our abilities in the last game.
“We didn’t get into their faces, so we’ve got to compete first and foremost. We know it’s going to be a battle and we’ve got to go toe-to-toe with them.
“Form goes out the window. It all comes down to who wants it more.”