Football: Hamilton honour for late Rangers winger

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THE FORMER Rangers winger Davie Cooper is to be honoured by his home town of Hamilton in the form of a statue that his old friend Ally McCoist will unveil next month.

The civic ceremony will mark the fourth anniversary of the talented winger's death in March 1995 after a brain haemorrhage. The tribute will commemorate Cooper's successful spell at Ibrox between 1977 to 1989, as well as the close links he maintained with Hamilton.

McCoist, now with Kilmarnock, spoke of his lasting respect for Cooper, admitting he remains lost without his friend. "Everyone knows Davie and I were very close," he said, "and, to be honest, I don't think I will ever get over his death.

"It's absolutely brilliant South Lanarkshire Council are making this gesture, and I'm thrilled to bits at being asked to perform the ceremony.

"It will be a special moment, and I expect a tear or two to be shed."

The bronze statue has cost around pounds 36,000 and will be the centrepiece of a newly built shopping complex, The Palace Grounds, in Hamilton.

Regi Blinker has applauded Celtic fans for their support during a testing five-month spell at Parkhead. Now the former Sheffield Wednesday forward wants to repay them by helping the club retain their Premier League title.

Blinker is set for his third successive start on Saturday against Dundee United after being hampered by a groin injury. Celtic go into the match aiming to cut the gap on the leaders, Rangers, who play on Sunday, to seven points.

"The Celtic fans have been brilliant to me and the whole team," Blinker said. "I feel that everyone has benefited. Hopefully now we will be able to give them something back.

"The confidence through the whole squad is very high, and I am sure that will be reflected in our results both home and away."

Blinker is delighted to be back in contention and has helped steer Celtic to successive victories over Kilmarnock and Motherwell in the past week. "You learn never to expect anything in football, but I can't hide my disappointment about being out of action for such a long time," he said.

"You always want to come back as soon as is possible but you have to be careful especially when you are nursing a muscle injury. Everything depends on your outlook. I look at players who go all season without a knock and think to myself, `I want some of that.'

"Then there are those who are out for the whole season, so you soon realise just how much better off you are really are sometimes."