Connor Goldson says it’s essential that Rangers work together to beat PSV Eindhoven and reach the Champions League after a dramatic build-up to the play-off that saw striker Alfredo Morelos dropped.
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst left Morelos out of the travelling party for the trip to Netherlands, following the striker’s red card against Hibs on Saturday. The manager had consulted with senior player before making the decision to omit the striker over “attitude and fitness”.
With the Ibrox side facing PSV on Wednesday night hoping to reach the Champions League group stage, the absence of the club’s all-time European goalscorer has created headlines but Goldson says the focus has to be clear.
“I just think a fit and firing Alfredo is one of our most important players and obviously until he gets back to that, I don’t think he is helping us as much as he can do,” the 26-year-old said.
“He has had a massive injury, probably the first big injury that he has had in his career and it has taken some time to come back from that so we need him to be as fit and ready as much as possible because he is one of the best players in this team.
“He obviously done something stupid on Saturday, he did let us down but at the same time we are a team, we are a group and we have to be together because the only times we have won things is when we have all stuck together and done everything together.
“So going into tomorrow, this squad has to be more united than ever because we know it is going to be a massive game.”
As one of the longer-serving players at Ibrox, Goldson has been part of the steady progress in European football in recent year, from early qualifiers through to last season’s Europa League final. He acknowledged the big moments the squad has shared and said that the PSV game was “just another big game”.
“It is a big achievement,” he said. “If you look at the journey of these last four years, it has been amazing, but at the same time, we have all had these big nights together as a group.
“You look at the run we had together last season and we always sat here and said ‘what a big game’ and ‘what a big achievement’.
“This is just another big game for the football club and we know as a team, we have to try and produce.”
The centre-back said that qualification wouldn’t quite be on a par with the highs of playing in a European final last season, but admitted that playing at the highest level in Europe would be a dream come true.
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “I never felt that I would play Champions League football – growing up, coming through where I did at Shrewsbury in League Two.
“Would I ever have envisioned that I would be able to play Champions League football? Probably not.
“You have dreams as a kid and this is the pinnacle of club careers so if we can do it, and hopefully we can, then it would be an amazing achievement.”