Football: Laudrup proves his worth as Rangers tighten grip at top

Scottish Round-Up
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With Manchester United and Ajax already credited with some kind of interest, it looks as it Brian Laudrup will be spoiled for choice when leaves Rangers.

There is little doubt that the Dane will move on and, with his contract expiring in the summer, he is free to talk to interested parties from Thursday. An early bid would allow Rangers to recoup some money for one of the most influential players that the Scottish game has seen for years, but any amount of cash has to be balanced against the search for a 10th league title, and Laudrup was again inspirational on Saturday.

He brought Rangers back into the game with their first goal after Dundee United had taken the lead, and his cross allowed Alex Cleland the chance to give the champions a half-time lead. A double strike by Marco Negri kept Rangers top of the league and stretched their lead to four points over Celtic who lost to St Johnstone.

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, can call on six additional players, including Richard Gough, Andy Goram, Paul Gascoigne and Jonas Thern for Friday's old firm match at Parkhead. Celtic cannot afford to lose on Friday after their defeat at Perth, while Hearts have moved into second place, two points behind Rangers, thanks to a 3-1 win at Dunfermline.

However, their neighbours Hibernian have dropped to the bottom of the division following their latest defeat, a 1-0 home reverse at the hands of Kilmarnock. Jim Duffy's side have gone 14 games without victory after leading the division in the early weeks of the season. Duffy will now walk his own personal tightrope at Thursday's Edinburgh derby, a game which will signal the first anniversary of his arrival at Easter Road.

"If Hibs lose again, there will be calls for my head," Duffy said. "It's hard to hide my disappointment and I can only hope the players can stir themselves when they look at the league table."

Alex Miller, the Aberdeen manager, was given his first victory since his arrival from Coventry, an emphatic 3-0 win over Motherwell, which was enough to lift the Dons from the bottom of the League.

Police are to launch an inquiry after the referee Martin Clark was felled by coins thrown from the crowd that hit him on the lip, forehead and shoulder during Saturday's Third Division match between the Angus rivals, Montrose and Arbroath, at Links Park. Clark, who appeared to be targeted by one fan in particular, was able to continue refereeing the match after receiving treatment.