Rangers do NOT see Ross Stewart as a direct transfer replacement for Alfredo Morelos, despite circulating reports.

The Rangers Review understands the striker has been watched but suggestions he’d be a direct substitute for their Colombian talisman or a key target are wide of the mark.

The Ibrox club are keen for Morelos to extend his five-year stay in Govan and talks are continuing behind the scenes to add to the one year remaining on his contract.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst is well aware of the need to add firepower to the squad if they are to wrest the title back from Celtic and there is a necessity to acquire players capable of chalking up Premiership strikes.

While Morelos has been an outstanding signing since his £1m move from HJK Helsinki, his goals in the SPFL have never topped 17 in a single season and he's got a higher ratio of goals per minute in Europe.

In winning their 55th title, Rangers under Steven Gerrard not only had star men Morelos and Kemar Roofe, but Jermain Defoe, Cedric Itten and Greg Stewart to choose from. 

While the main two remain, Itten has departed back to Switzerland, Defoe left in January and namesake Stewart moved on to Indian football. A transfer for Stewart would be more representative of the club moving to replace these players than the Colombian.

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The depth of options in the last title-winning season were in stark contrast to 21/22 after injuries to Morelos and Roofe left Rangers without a recognised, trusted number 9. While van Bronckhorst's tactical tinkering masked the issue somewhat, there is no doubt that a greater volume of options would help next season's push for trophies.

As a player with a recent history of solid performance in the top flight, Stewart's physicality, aerial prowess and adaptability to play different positions are strong pull factors for any club looking to secure his services.

He has been described by a source as "a machine" who is totally focused on being the best he can be. A 24-hour athlete, Stewart is understood to concentrate his summer break on returning at peak fitness for the season despite the obvious pull of sun-drenched holidays with friends.

A Scotland international, he would add an understanding of the club and league, something the manager will be cognisant of from his own spell under Dick Advocaat when the likes of Neil McCann and Billy Dodds added as much off the pitch as they did off it.

While Stewart's goal record of 24 goals and five assists in 46 appearances for Sunderland has been excellent in League One, it’s understood that any deal to secure his services from Sunderland is not seen as financially prohibitive and the player would be interested in moving to Ibrox.

That said, Rangers are not alone in admiring the striker with as many as 10 clubs in England monitoring the situation. It's understood that while no concrete offer has been made for his services, several Championship clubs are seriously weighing up a potential move in the weeks ahead.

Regardless of Stewart’s obvious qualities, the notion he could come in and replace Morelos is simply not part of the football strategy.

Talks with the Colombian continue shrouded in silence. Rangers no longer allow transfer business to be conducted in public and have maintained a water-tight policy when it comes to leaks.

The recent news Connor Goldson had signed a new deal was one such example of how the club insist on keeping such information close to their vest.