Rangers out of the running for Christophe Berra

Rangers forward Andrew Little is tackled by Brora's Gavin Morrison at Dudgeon Park yesterday. Picture: SNS
Rangers forward Andrew Little is tackled by Brora's Gavin Morrison at Dudgeon Park yesterday. Picture: SNS
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CHRISTOPHE Berra, the Scotland centre-back, will not be joining Rangers after becoming a free agent following his release by Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Brora 0-2 Rangers

Scorer: Rangers - MacLeod (54, 60)

Berra was very much on Ally McCoist’s radar, but the Rangers manager made it clear yesterday that he will not be pursuing his interest in the former Hearts captain.

McCoist, speaking yesterday after his team’s 2-0 win over Brora Rangers at Dudgeon Park in their first pre-season match, revealed: “The deal for Berra is off. I think he is going to go to a Championship club.

“But the club is still talking to Boris Pandza’s agent and I have spoken with the player. There is still a long way to go, but he is someone we are interested in.”

McCoist is also giving careful consideration to signing central defender Bielil Mohnsi after being impressed by the French-Tunisian in what was a straightforward win over the Highland League side.

Mohnsi is currently on trial after playing more than 70 games for Southend as well as undertaking a loan spell at Ipswich. On the evidence of his display yesterday, the lanky defender must fancy his chances of being offered a more permanent arrangement.

Substituted at half-time, Mohnsi was re-introduced after 67 minutes when Ross Perry was stretchered off after going over on his ankle.

But Rangers face competition from West Ham after McCoist confirmed that Hammers manager Sam Allardyce is also interested in Mohnsi.

He said: “I was very happy with him. He looked comfortable and showed that there’s a bit of experience there.

“When Ross was injured, he steadied the ship a wee bit with Luca Gasparotto and he and Lewis MacLeod were two of the standouts.

“The way Mohnsi performed was encouraging and he has fitted in with the lads. There is every chance he could play against Elgin in midweek.

“I spoke with Paul Sturrock about him and he gave a great report. But Sam Allardyce is also interested in him and Ian Holloway at Crystal Palace had the lad as well. “I have spoken with all three of them, because you do your homework with due diligence.

“It’s not rocket science. If a club comes in and offers big wages then we’ll be up against it. But he knows we are a big club and that we are developing as a team. It’s been encouraging but we will wait and see what the future holds.”

There was a surprisingly large crowd yesterday, given that the match was played in opposition to Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

But for all that this was no more than a warm-up exercise, a sizeable number of Rangers fans made the 460-mile round trip from Glasgow to bask in the Highland sunshine.

They were rewarded with two goals by MacLeod, scored in the space of six minutes early in the second half, to seal a comfortable victory for the visitors.

Rangers fielded a total of 21 players during the course of the 90 minutes, making no fewer than ten changes at the interval to ensure that their entire travelling squad were given an outing.

McCoist’s summer signings featured and full-back Ricky Foster caught the eye. The former Bristol City player was composed and displayed some neat touches.

Prior to MacLeod opening the scoring after 54 minutes, Rangers had threatened once or twice to break the deadlock, even though it took them until the 22nd minute to test goalkeeper Joe Mallin.

Mohnsi then headed a clear chance wide before Rangers appealed for a penalty when Lee Wallace was body checked. Lee McCulloch also had a header blocked at the back post close to the interval, while the only time Cammy Bell was called into action was to stop a shot by Zander Sutherland.

The only player to be given more than 45 minutes was Robbie Crawford, but McCoist was pleased overall with his squad’s efforts, in particular those of his new signings, Bell, Foster, Steven Smith, Nicky Law, Jon Daly and Nicky Clark. “There were plenty of positives,” he said. “Winning the game was important, but I was really pleased with the new signings. I wanted the vast majority of them to get a good 45 minutes, which they did, so I am delighted with the exercise.”

Meanwhile, McCoist played down speculation that several players are on their way out at Ibrox, including Brazilian Emilson Cribari, Perry and Kyle Hutton.

He added: “That’s news to me. There’s been nothing said and nothing concrete. Ross Perry looks like he’s taken a bad one after going over on his ankle and damaging the ligaments and could be out for a while, so nothing is set in stone.

“We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks and I’d like to think there would be movement in and out of the club.”

McCoist also revealed that more than 30,000 fans have renewed their season tickets ahead of the new campaign in the Second Division. Season tickets go on public sale this week and he said: “Our fans have backed the club yet again in great numbers and I can’t thank them enough for their continued support.”