STEVEN Gerrard acknowledged last night that Alfredo Morelos’ first dismissal of a previously-blemish free season against Motherwell was a blow - but insisted referee Don Roberson had been “desperate” to send someone off during Rangers’ 2-0 win at Fir Park.

Whilst the Rangers manager had “no complaints” about the match official’s decision to dismiss the 23-year-old for two bookings – the first was for catching Jake Carroll then the second was for gesturing to the home fans after he scored his 27th of the season – he said he wished referees would take the abuse players receive from the stands into account.

While Morelos was showered with missiles such as cups of Bovril, coins and a lighter after the gesture, the Englishman felt the card was coming and had been trying to substitute his striker beforehand. He confirmed that Morelos would be fined in addition to being forced to sit out Friday night’s Premiership meeting with Hibs at Easter Road on Friday.

“It is a setback today, he knows that, we know that,” said Gerrard. “But let’s not forget how much of an improvement there has been. We will reset him and I’m sure he will be fine because he hates missing football matches. I’m sure he hates getting punished in the pocket so hopefully he will get back on the horse and continue to improve in that area. Unfortunately, the supporters and his team-mates will suffer because he’s not available for the next game.

“I think officials need to take [abuse from the stands] into consideration at times,” he added. “There had been a bit of a commotion between both sets of players, although there wasn’t much in it. However, when I saw the referee book Ryan Jack and Declan Gallagher I thought he was waiting for a moment. We have no complaints ... but I felt he was desperate to give out a red card today. I had that feeling, which is unfortunate as our player does get that type of abuse. We tried to take him off ... because he was already on a yellow but also because we were flashing balls across the six-yard box and I felt someone with a bit of nous and experience would get a tap-in.”