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Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos Colombia call-up and World Cup

First in Finland, now in Scotland, European audiences have been swift to hail the goalscoring gifts of Alfredo Morelos.

The 21-year-old hopes his homeland will be the next port of call for that appreciation. Seven goals in his last five Rangers appearances have intensified the striker’s ambition to win a call-up from Colombia.

So far, Morelos has represented his country at every level up to Under 20. With the senior squad positively placed in the South American qualifying section for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, this would be an opportune time to make the last, and most important, step forward.

Alfredo Morelos hopes Colombioa will be the next port of call for his goalscoring appreciation

The 21-year-old has impressed since joining Rangers in the summer from HJK Helsinki

The 21-year-old has impressed since joining Rangers in the summer from HJK Helsinki

How rapidly that can happen will depend on the opinion of Colombia coach Jose Pekerman, a 68-year-old previously in charge of Argentina. Morelos is well aware the best way of arguing his case is by continuing a prolific start to life at Ibrox.

‘I’m growing and improving as a player and now my next aim is a place in the Colombia squad,’ he said. ‘I’m training well, playing well, scoring goals. Football in Scotland is aggressive and powerful. My mindset is to carry on doing the right things and wait for the call. I am very calm.

‘It has been a very good start for me at Rangers. I had a very hard pre-season and that prepared me to start in the league.

‘I think I am adapting well to the team and this is being reflected on the pitch. I am really happy. I have been starting games and the continuity has helped me. I’m at my best when I am happy and I certainly am at Rangers.

‘Every game I learn more and more about my team-mates. I’m starting to know their movements and characteristics, which can only help. I want to continue and try to achieve many things — to grow as a player, continue to score goals and look for a spot in the Colombia team.’

Morelos spent two years as a young player with Independiente Medellin, but hungered for more regular first-team football to make his name.

Morelos has played for Colombia at every level up to Under 20 but now wants full recognition

Morelos has played for Colombia at every level up to Under 20 but now wants full recognition

Finland hardly seemed like an obvious destination to fulfil that aim but a switch to HJK Helsinki proved an inspired decision.

Morelos scored 47 goals in 62 appearances for HJK — eye-catching progress that was followed by Rangers first-team coach Jonatan Johansson, a former Finland striker.

Securing a £1million transfer to Glasgow already looks like a sound investment by the Ibrox club. Morelos sits joint-top of the early Premiership scoring charts — beside on-loan Rangers winger Michael O’Halloran at St Johnstone.

More remarkably, he is still third in the Finnish top-flight standings despite leaving their April to October season three months ago. His 11 goals were accrued without the assistance of any penalties.

‘I left Colombia when I was 19 and I did not have so many opportunities in football there,’ he told Colombian media.

‘I was with Medellin for two seasons but did not have that many matches. When I went to Helsinki, people began to know me more and speak about me.

‘Hopefully, I can keep doing things well for Rangers so that the people in Colombia will know me more.’

His fame in the blue half of Glasgow has rapidly risen and Morelos feels he has made a significant career advancement.

‘It’s a very different pace compared to the game I played in Finland — it’s played with more intensity, it is physical and the aerial side of the game is important,’ he added.

‘But to play for 90 minutes, you have to be well prepared. It’s a very competitive league. I’m happy to be at the club and in this league. It’s good.

‘It’s very exciting for me just now. I’m playing for a big club. Their fans always fill the stadium and accompany us everywhere we go. It is wonderful.

‘Every time I go to the shopping mall, I will be greeted, asked for a photo or an autograph. It is nice. They support you and they want you to feel that on the pitch.’

Indeed, the form shown by Morelos has helped drag Rangers away from the despondency of their embarrassing Europa League exit against Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg.

‘It was hard,’ said Morelos. ‘We did not expect that, we hoped to reach the group stage.

‘We are preparing in the best way for all the tournaments in Scotland — that is the mentality of the group. We are three points from first. We are also in the quarter-finals of the (League) Cup.

‘We are all motivated. Our day- to-day life in the team is to think about the next game.’