29 March 2013

Rangers' SFL Targets

by Alan Clark | Contributor

Out of contract players are the name of the game for Rangers this summer, as the last stretch of the registration embargo is played out until September 1st. 

Ally McCoist has already strongly hinted at a big re-building job for next season and players who have their contracts ending this summer will be assessed and potentially signed up on pre-contracts.

Rangers could then use some of the signings as trialists in July and August, before signing them as free agents on September 1st. It won’t be an easy procedure, but it’s one that McCoist and his assistants will have to deal with.

The uncertainty over reconstruction in Scottish football and what league the club will actually play in is another big hurdle in the way of McCoist planning for the next step in the journey back to the top-flight, but it is believed he has already started searching for new additions.

Indeed, Dundee United’s Jon Daly and Kilmarnock’s Cammy Bell have both featured prominently in the media with regards to being transfer targets for Rangers, with McCoist confirming that both very much are.

As you will have seen from fellow CRO member Andy McGowan’s article back in January, there are various players that Rangers will be looking at whose deals run out soon and also currently play in the Scottish Premier League.

However, the SPL players that Rangers brought in in that nightmare period last year have performed far from what was expected of them. Ian Black, Francisco Sandaza and Dean Shiels have looked shadows of the players we all seen at Hearts, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock respectively.

The marquee signing, as it were, hasn’t been brilliant either in the form of David Templeton. The winger signed from Hearts on deadline day in August has scored a decent amount of goals, and some crackers, but inconsistency and injury has ensured that expectant fans aren’t quite sure of him yet.

Some supporters, while scratching their heads at unacceptable Third Division results and performances, have queried why the club didn’t bring in players who have vast experience and/or ability in the lower leagues of Scotland.

Here are a few players who we think are out of contract in the summer, and have impressed in the lower leagues. Disclaimer: Tin hat is firmly lodged on. These are not long-term solutions, but they are cheaper and perhaps better options than some SPL targets.

Nicky Clark – Striker - Queen of the South 

The son of ex-Ger Sandy Clark, the Second Division top goalscorer has had an amazing campaign at Palmerston Park. An astonishing 33 goals in 39 appearances has contributed massively to the Doonhamer’s nearly flawless season as they wrapped up the title last night. He scored the openers in the Ramsdens Cup win against Rangers and the League Cup triumph over Hibernian.

Previous clubs include Aberdeen and Peterhead, with the 22-year-old moving from the latter to Queen of the South in July 2011. First season appearances were limited but this season the forward has been on fire. Queen of the South’s promotion back to the First Division is now secure, and Clark is on track to be the most deadly finisher in all four senior divisions in Scotland.

With Kevin Kyle released, Francisco Sandaza likely to leave and Kane Hemmings out of contract, bringing in a striker should be a priority alongside centre backs for McCoist. In all likelihood, Rangers will be in the ten-team Second Division for next term under the status quo and a proven SFL2 player like Clark would fit in well.

After just earning promotion, would he accept staying in the same league? I think he probably would once he seen the wage Rangers could offer him. It wouldn’t take much to entice Clark, as at Palmerston he’d be on peanuts compared to at Ibrox, and that would be considered a ‘low’ wage in Rangers’ standards.

Lyle Taylor – Striker – Falkirk

The First Division’s top marksman Taylor is another forward that would fit in well with the Rangers squad for the Second Division campaign. Like Clark, the Englishman has time on his side at 22 years of age. 25 goals in 35 games for a Falkirk side nowhere near the top-end of SFL1 is a pretty revealing statistic, and his debut season in Scotland has been very impressive.

Taylor spent his early career playing for various English lower league sides including Millwall and was sceptical about moving so far north when he joined the Bairns. But the risk has paid off and he been prolific for them in all competitions, with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibernian to look forward to. The 34 goals in 42 matches for previous club Concord Rangers obviously attracted then manager Steven Pressley into looking at him.

As with Clark, the wages would not be anything near a problem for the club to offer him a deal. Bringing in Taylor and Clark instead of one player like Daly would probably cost slightly less per week. According to transfermarkt.co.uk, Taylor's deal expires in May of this year.

Jordan McMillan – Defender – Partick Thistle 

The ex-Rangers reserve captain has been a name mentioned by fans as he is another SFL player who was out of contract come May 2013. But with Dunfermline Athletic’s plunge into administration, the club made their captain McMillan redundant on Wednesday. Subject to clearance, McMillan signed a contract with Partick Thistle till the end of the current season.

Released by Rangers at the end of January 2012, the young defender never really got a chance at Ibrox. When he did make a rare appearance at right-back, he impressed and looked rather solid in his role. A substitute appearance away to Bursaspor in the Champions league was about his lot.

Many supporters were disappointed to see him join Dunfermline, expecting a loan deal for the player and not a free transfer. With the team’s defensive problems, having Kyle McAusland back from his loan spell at Ayr United and re-signing McMillan could be a good piece of business by McCoist.

As with all the signings Rangers will bring in for the new season, 24-year-old McMillan would need to be registered as a trialist for the first few games of the season, or wait till September 1st to officially sign on the dotted line.

Your Ideas

On Berwick Rangers’ 18-year-old Dylan Easton:

Robert Cartwright ‏said (@Robert_1872): “He looked like he had some things that we lack. He looked comfortable on the ball and could go by a player. Also, was direct from midfield!”

Scott Paterson ‏tweeted (@ScottyPaterson6): “Easton ran the show at Ibrox a couple of months back in my honest opinion.”

On Daniel Moore, Rangers-daft left-winger from Elgin City:

Scott Paterson ‏also tweeted (@ScottyPaterson6): “He is a fit and athletic boy. Would provide a decent combination with Lee Wallace at left-back and balance the team if Andy Little continues to play wide right.”

Other SFL picks include Queen of the South captain and central defender Chris Higgins – hitman Rory McAllister of Peterhead - Stefan Scougall, midfielder for Livingston and ex-Ger Archie Campbell of Greenock Morton.