RANGERS centre-back Connor Goldson believes that ‘one of a kind’ Alfredo Morelos has been the best player in Scotland this season, and that is all down to his own hard work.

The striker bagged his 28th goal of the season in Wednesday night’s cruise over Dundee, with both the Colombian and the Rangers team as a whole firing on all cylinders ahead of today’s trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen for a place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

Goldson admits he had his reservations about his slightly out of shape new teammate when he joined up with Rangers on their pre-season trip to Marbella last summer, but he has been blown away by his transformation into a lean, mean scoring machine.

When asked if Morelos should be player of the year, Goldson said: “Yeah, I think his record speaks for itself.

“The games that he has missed, and he has missed a fair few, his record shows he’s scored 28 goals. To have 28 by the end of February is unbelievable and there’s no many can do that.

“He’s proven game after game that he’s up there with the best players in this country. I can’t compare him to anyone I’ve played with. He’s one of a kind.

“He’s naturally a strong boy. He’s not in the gym lifting weights all the time, that’s just natural.

“You look at the size of his legs, his bum, it’s huge. He has the frame of a grown man even though he’s just turned 22.

“From when I came in pre-season, the weight he has lost and the work he’s able to do in a game of football—that’s the difference for me.

“When I first came you could see he’d had a good summer. But, to be fair to him, he worked his socks off and he got rid of a lot of weight.

“He’s a player that works his socks off for 90 minutes for the team. He’s done that for 40-odd games, which is credit to him, the way he has looked after himself and the player he’s made himself into.”

Goldson is just glad that he is on the same side as Morelos as he looks to follow up his double at Pittodrie last month.

“Training is different but, yeah, you wouldn’t like to play against Alfredo,” he said. “He’s a pest for 90 minutes, he will wear you down, he will always be working and being physical and putting himself about.

“But he’s been brilliant this season and that’s credit to him. I know he scored, I think 18 last season, but from the boy I saw when I first came here to Marbella to what he’s turned into now is a completely different player.

“That’s down to the way he’s worked physically and it’s all paid off for him.”

One thing that Morelos will be looking to avoid recreating upon his return to the North-East is his unwanted double of having been sent off at Pittodrie on both of his visits there so far this season. In fact, he has been ordered off every time he has faced the Dons this term, having also been shown a red card in Aberdeen’s win at Ibrox back in December.

Goldson would be reluctant to try to blunt the edge his colleague plays with, but he does recognise the importance of keeping a cool head in what is likely to be a white-hot atmosphere this afternoon.

“We all know we’ve had too many red cards this season,” he said. “I feel it’s been a bit better recently, but earlier it harmed the team in the long run with suspensions and injuries playing so many minutes with 10 or nine men.

“We know what we need to go there and do. We know they are going to try and wind up certain individuals and they just need to be man enough not to do anything back and just to keep the head, keep the cool and stick to the game plan we are hoping to influence.

“It’s hard. Alfredo is one of the players who you don’t really want to take away the way that he plays football. It’s the way he’s been brought up to play and I think if you take that away from him I don’t think he will be the player that he is.

“He’s had some silly moments over the season but as I’ve said before we are never going to, as a team, hammer Alfredo when he’s now scored 28 goals and won us more points than he’s lost.”

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard refused to be drawn on speculation linking him with a move for Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie, who is available on a free transfer at the end of the season.

"I don't want any unnecessary headlines before a game,” Gerrard said. "He's a player I admire. He's a good player, he's done ever so well, he's a leader, I've only got compliments for the player."

Gerrard passed those compliments on in person to Shinnie on the Pittodrie pitch following Rangers’ recent 4-2 win at the stadium on league duty, but the Ibrox boss stressed that there was nothing more to his gesture.

He said: "I thought he played really well and I'm a manager who, if players are competing against me and putting in good performances, I've no problem in going over- win, lose or draw - to compliment them."