sport

McCoist still wants McGowan

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has refused to rule out a fresh bid to sign Ryan McGowan later in the year.

The defender is in China after troubled Hearts agreed a 400,000 fee with Shandong Luneng Taishan.

According to reports, the move is likely to be short-term until November, paving the way for Rangers - who are under a transfer embargo until September - to make a move then.

The Glasgow giants failed to lure McGowan to Ibrox in the August window but McCoist admits the player is still on his radar.

He said: "He's a good player. Ryan is a player we obviously tried to get earlier.

"He's like everybody else, we keep a completely open mind and we monitor players who we have been watching and we will continue to do that.

"I would absolutely rule nothing out."

Rangers are unable to recruit new players this month but can sign free agents from September 1, meaning McCoist will be looking to secure his targets on pre-contract agreements over the coming weeks.

He said: "There is no progress as yet but we've got one or two players we have been looking at and we've got on the radar.

"Our chief scout has been keeping us updated but there is nothing to report yet."

While making plans to bolster his squad later in the year, McCoist is also keen to reward some of his current players with new deals, including defender Chris Hegarty, who is on a one-year contract.

The manager said: "If there is one player in the squad who probably deserves a contract, it would be Hegarty.

"I haven't had any great lengthy discussions with him, just brief discussions with him.

"He's earned the opportunity to get himself a new contract, with the way he has come into the team and the way he has performed.

"We have to look outside but we have to reward the players who deserve new contracts as well. He is one we will look at."

While a new deal could be good news for Hegarty, there was bad news for another young defender, Darren Cole.

He could miss the rest of the season if surgery is required on the ankle injury which forced him out of the midweek win at Annan, having recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

McCoist said: "The immediate signs are that, unfortunately, it looks as though he will need an operation.

"I don't want to pre-empt the situation but, if it is an operation, we will do well to see him again this season. It's a real shame because he has been injured for a while.

"I can see he has grown up both physically and mentally and I can see the change in him. This has just come at an horrendous time for him.

"Hopefully he will handle it okay and, if it is an operation, he will just need to come back and get ready to go again and get his pre-season."

Meanwhile, McCoist believes a winter break for Clydesdale Bank Premier League teams, while the Scottish Football League sides are still in action, is another example of the disparity within Scottish football.

However, having won their past 11 games, the Light Blues boss is pleased his Irn-Bru Third Division leaders have the opportunity to maintain their momentum when Elgin City come calling tomorrow.

He said: "It seems as though we're not all singing from the same hymn sheet again.

"One of the leagues gets a winter break and the other leagues play.

"I just think we should all be doing the same thing, whether it's playing or having a break.

"If we were going into a break now, I would have to say that it would be coming at a bad time for us because we have had a fantastic December and the boys are winning games.

"I have to admit, I'm not too disappointed I don't have a winter break."