STEVEN Gerrard backed Alfredo Morelos last night to break his duck against Celtic in today’s BetFred Cup final between the two teams – but warned his little Colombian striker he is sure to face provocation from the club’s Old Firm rivals.

While that Latin temperament – and a costly sending off in a pivotal Glasgow grudge match at Celtic Park last March – has persuaded the Englishman to start with him on the bench in the last two Old Firm derbies, all signs point to Morelos starting at Hampden today.

Sent off five times in all last season, Morelos has scored 25 goals this term already and has yet to get his marching orders in any game. Finally getting a goal against Celtic after ten matches in all without one would further confirm his legend status amongst the Ibrox club’s fans. While the stat is an anomaly and an outlier considering the chances Morelos has had and the teams he has scored against, Gerrard issued a fresh warning that it all starts with continuing that improved disciplinary record in he face of provocation.

Asked about his failure to score against Celic, Gerrard said: “That’s the truth, that’s the reality. He hasn’t delivered in that one fixture. Sunday is the opportunity to put that right.

“He will be doing everything he can—it’s certainly not through lack of trying,” added the Englishman, who will soon announce a contract extension to take him through to 2024. “He relies on service as well. I’m not going to be one to criticise him for that because we have to have people around him to provide the service. But we have done that a lot this season and if that service is there, I wouldn’t back against him turning it round."

While Gerrard stopped short of confirming the player would start, he prised the advances he has made thus far in curbing his disciplinary problems. “The proof’s in the pudding, isn’t it?" said Gerrard. "Last season he was getting dismissed too many times. He was letting the team down. There’s a fine line between being aggressive, channelling it in the right way and letting it overspill, playing with too much emotion and making mistakes.

“That’s what was happening last year but this time his behaviour has been a lot different. That’s credit to himself. All we ask of him is to play on the edge and be who you are. We don’t want to take any of that away but it needs to be channelled in the right way because letting your team-mates on a stage like this isn’t helpful at all. And we know that he will be provoked at certain times.

“He’s shown it all season, certainly in a European situation because we know you won’t get away with things in Europe that you might in the SPFL. We’ve also played against Aberdeen twice and there were no problems, we played an Old Firm game at home and no problems. So there’s definitely signs he’s improving that side of his game, which is great to see. Alfredo is a player who has X-factor and, being his manager, I know all his fans and even the media want to see him play football, not sitting in an early bath."