Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has admitted his disappointment at not having Alfredo Morelos available for the rest of the season but says his focus is on picking a team that can beat Braga on Thursday.
The Ibrox club revealed earlier this week that Morelos has had surgery on a muscle injury and won’t return until pre-season, ruling him out of the title run-in, the Scottish Cup and the Europa League matches.
Kemar Roofe started up front against Celtic to cover the Colombian striker’s absence but had little success in the 2-1 defeat. Fashion Sakala Jnr is also an option to play up front and Van Bronckhorst says he’ll choose the team to face Braga in Thursday’s quarter-final first leg than can best trouble the opposition.
“We’re disappointed but we know what the problem is,” the Rangers boss said. “We have to move on now.
“We prepare for this game the way we prepare for every game. We see their strengths and weaknesses and see which players we can use.
“Obviously we don’t have Morelos, we don’t have Hagi, we don’t have Lowry.
“We just pick a game plan and try to execute it as well as possible.”
Though conceding that Morelos, who has scored 19 goals for Rangers this season, had been a key part of his team, Van Bronckhorst was keen to stress that he had to put the disappointment behind him and look to what he has available and the crucial challenges ahead.
“I believe [we can cope without Morelos],” he said. “Of course we’re disappointed about Morelos, he’s a very important player.
“The reality is that he is not there and we have to prepare for this game without him. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what we are focused on tomorrow.”
Rangers fly out to Portugal on Wednesday for their Europa League last-eight match and the manager said they have to focus and make sure they seize their chance with both hands and continue their feel-good story in Europe.
“It’s a big opportunity,” he said. “It’s not often you play a quarter-final in Europe and reach the semi-finals.
“We have to work hard and get the performances in tomorrow and also next week to overcome Braga. I think people were saying it was the best draw we could have, a couple of weeks ago, but i think it’s a very good team.
“They’re very strong, they won against Benfica last weekend. It’s a team who is difficult to overcome so we have a big challenge ahead of us, but we relish the chance to go to the semi-finals.”
The team will have to bounce back from their derby defeat against Rangers on Sunday but Van Bronckhorst said the players had put that behind them and were fully concentrating on the task ahead of them now.
“There’s disappointment, obviously and you have to switch readily to the next game ahead, and that’s Braga,” he said. “That’s what the players have done, what we’ve all done, and it’s the only thing we can do and have to do.
“The game has passed now and we’re looking ahead to Braga.”