Ally McCoist hits out at early start to season

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has said believes the early start date to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League season has hindered his attempts to strengthen his squad.

Scotland's top teams will be back in domestic action on the weekend of July 23, meaning their bosses are under pressure to recruit new players as soon as possible ahead of the new campaign.

But that urgency is not shared by clubs south of the border, with the Barclays Premier League returning on August 13, and Rangers currently left in limbo with regards their dealings with some English clubs over transfers.

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McCoist said: "It's a fact - the early start has not helped Scottish teams at all. Quite the opposite in fact.

"The most important date for the boys in England is when their season starts, not right now to get players in.

"Without doubt, in my opinion, it has been a handicap for the Scottish teams."

A prime example is Kyle Bartley, who Rangers are keen to secure on a second loan spell from Arsenal, who have yet to decide whether to allow the defender to return to the Scottish champions.

McCoist said: "It would be great to have him back.

"I spoke to Arsene Wenger and Arsene wants to have a good look at Kyle in pre-season before he makes any decision on anything.

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"I can totally understand his view. He is absolutely, 100per cent , within his rights and I would do exactly the same. He doesn't need to look at his players just now."

Another target is former Ibrox defender Carlos Cuellar but Rangers are no closer to reaching agreement on a fee with Aston Villa.

"Carlos Cuellar is very high on the list," said McCoist.

"I know negotiations have been going on between the two clubs.

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"Carlos is a player we would certainly like to see come back but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and then.

"He is still an Aston Villa player and they are aware of our interest. There has been dialogue but there is still a lot of work to be done on that one.

"It has to go through the right channels and the clubs haven't agreed anything at all as yet.

"That would give you an indication that there is still a lot of work to be done. It's one we will continue to push along."

McCoist also refused to give up hope of luring SPL stars David Goodwillie and Lee Wallace to Rangers, even though Dundee United's Goodwillie has been linked with Cardiff and Hearts have already rejected a bid for Wallace.

"I wouldn't say it's dead in the water," said the Ibrox boss of his pursuit of Goodwillie.

"The interest certainly isn't dead in the water.

"Our representatives have spoken with Stephen Thompson at Dundee United so there has been dialogue, although there has been no offer made as yet."

On a second bid for Wallace, McCoist added: "I would be hopeful of that but I can't tell you any more than that because I haven't had a chance to speak to (owner] Craig Whyte today.

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"There is a little bit of a gap in the valuation of the player between the clubs.

"I'll have a chat with Craig and see what we want to do but I make no secret of the fact that the first bid has been rejected and Lee is a player we would be keen to get here."

Skipper David Weir was at Murray Park with the rest of the squad today, with reports suggesting the 41-year-old could be set for a new one-year deal.

McCoist said: "We've not spoken yet.

"David's views will be as important as anything so I want to speak to him and see how he feels, see what he wants to do, what he feels he can do.

"There will be part of David that will want to start his coaching as well so we will just need to wait and see what he wants to do. We will have a chat, it's not a problem."

On the possibility of a player-coach role for Weir, the manager said: "I haven't give it that much thought and I would need to clear it with the owner.

"That's something we could maybe look at. David has been fantastic for this place and this place has been fantastic for David.

"The least we can do is to have a sit down and a chat and a cup of tea and see what he wants to do."