TOM LUCAS has been around the block. The sport psychologist has worked with footballers in the Scottish top flight for years, helping them to maximise their impact on the pitch by having a firm understanding of how managing their temperament can lead to improved performances.

Mentally preparing for a match is important, and a failure to do so can have disastrous consequences. There is no clearer example of what can happen when this aspect of modern sport is ignored than the case of

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos.

Firstly, there was the dismissal on the opening weekend of the Premiership season when Morelos kicked out at Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna after the pair bumped into each other off the ball. To be fair, the red card was ultimately rescinded but the incident would act as a stark warning of what was to come for the Colombian.

Then there was the red Morelos picked up against FC Ufa in the Europa League qualifiers, awarded after the 22-year-old was shown a yellow for a late challenge. Morelos protested emphatically, and was shown another yellow for his troubles.

Another red followed against Aberdeen in December, again the result of accruing two yellows. The first arrived when he needlessly bundled over Graeme Shinnie, and the second was awarded after Morelos petulantly kicked out at the Aberdeen captain.

Morelos was on the receiving end of yet another red when Rangers hosted Aberdeen at Ibrox in February after the Rangers top scorer and McKenna kicked out at each other and were subsequently given their marching orders for the coming together.

And then there was the red card at Celtic Park in March when Morelos kicked out at Scott Brown following an off-the-ball collision between the pair.

Having served his four-match suspension, Morelos will be available for selection today as Rangers host Hibernian and all eyes will be on him should he feature against Paul Heckingbottom’s side.

After Morelos received his ban for his fifth red card of the season, Steven Gerrard revealed that the Colombian would be fined for his ill-discipline in an attempt to finally put a stop to the striker’s misbehaviour on the pitch. The only problem is that this won’t help Morelos in the slightest. At least, that is what Lucas thinks.

“What’s that going to do? It won’t even make a dent in his pocket money,” Lucas says. “It’s archaic, I don’t think it should be allowed. There are better ways of dealing with something, that’s just purely negative.

“The positive approach is to recognise that if you’re not capable of doing something yourself, you get somebody in to help him and go through it. Get them to focus on their perform-ance and why things are happening. I think it’s quite simple; you need to spend time with them, and managers don’t have the time to go through their reactions to things.

“The managers will deal with 90 per cent of the issues that a player has, but there’s that 10 per cent where they need to get help. A lot of them think they’re amateur psychologists and they know how to deal with them. They’ll fine them a week’s wages. That’s barbaric, that’s archaic. It doesn’t serve any purpose whatsoever.”

Lucas insists that Rangers as a club have been too slow to react to the apparent issues with Morelos’ temperament, and believes they should be doing much, much more.

“Rangers have a disciplinary issue and that has to be addressed by their management. It’s only now after the fifth red card that they seem to want to do something, other than fining him, which I think is horrendous,” he says. “That sort of thing went out with the Dark Ages. He needs help in the sense of how to react and how to respond in these situations.

“Having said that, to me, there’s a strong issue about what the club have not done in order to help him overcome his anger management and lashing out. It’s an abdication of responsibility.

“I’ve worked with players with similar problems. We sit them down and go through a process of how to respond and with the media we’ve got, we can show the response to sit-uations and ask ‘why did you do that?’. We try to find out what goes on behind the response.”

Focusing on the psychological aspect of modern football is an issue that Lucas feels Scottish football has ignored for too long. While other nations have embraced sport psychology as a crucial aspect of match preparation, Scotland is lagging sorely behind when it comes to taking players’ mentality seriously.

“Without a doubt, mentality is totally underrated in Scotland,” Lucas says. “The problem is that we think we don’t need it. That’s the issue.

“In the modern game, you’re leaving too many things to chance. We need to get smarter at these things and use all the different skills avail-able to us. If it means a five per cent improvement, would you not want to use it? Why dismiss these things as if it’s gobbledygook? It’s proven.

“We just need to look at not only the top teams, but even just the top sports people. Even Andy Murray embraces sport psychology. As much as he resisted it earlier on in his career, he does it now. Why would you not want to embrace it and look at every single aspect that can poss-ibly give you a wee edge in your performance?

“Surely that must be worth it if you can get that player to play to his full potential? We do a disservice to ourselves by constantly ignoring these things, saying we don’t need them.

“But maybe that’s why we’re as bad as we are. If it’s good enough for the Germans, the French, the Italians, the English, who do we think we are that we don’t need it? It’s an

arrogance beyond belief.”