Cup hat-trick gives Nerlinger timely lift

Rangers midfielder Christian Nerlinger, who hit his first hat-trick in the CIS Insurance Cup tie against Forfar on Tuesday night, has admitted the goals were vital to boost his confidence.

The German started the season well but then found himself out of the first team despite scoring a crucial goal against Stuttgart in the Champions' League.

But a recent dip in form by Alex McLeish's men, coupled with injuries, means the midfielder has been given his chance to impress again. He grabbed that opportunity during the third-round tie against Second-Division Forfar as Rangers completed a 6-0 win.

Nerlinger admits he needed those goals to give himself a lift in a stop-start season: "It's always nice to get goals when you have had a time in the season when you have not played as well as expected. These games can be important to gain back some self-confidence."

Meanwhile, the Hearts chief executive, Chris Robinson, has refused to rule out the possibility of the Edinburgh club relocating to Straiton.

Hibernian yesterday announced their decision to stay at Easter Road and, consequently, scuppered any possible ground-sharing scheme with their Edinburgh rivals.

The Tynecastle club, who are looking to leave their Gorgie Road home to meet criteria laid down by Uefa, the governing body of European football, have "road-tested" Murrayfield as a potential option. But Robinson maintains a move to Straiton, on the south side of the capital, is still a possibility.

"We are still weighing up all the options and still looking at the possibility of Straiton and moving out there on our own," said Robinson.

"We've carried out feasibility studies to find a new ground in and around Edinburgh and, clearly, Straiton was one of the few good sites available.

"Moving to the east side of the city, where Hibs are, was never an option and we did look at sites on the west side which weren't suitable for one reason or another.

"Straiton was a possibility for both clubs and clearly it is an option we have to consider in terms of going it alone."

The Dundee manager, Jim Duffy, has handed his board a list of the players he wants to keep at Dens Park for next season and is hoping the club's new director Giovanni Di Stefano can help persuade his top players to stay. Dundee have nine of the team that faced Rangers in the Tennent's Scottish Cup final last season out of contract in the summer, including the Scotland international Gavin Rae and the striker Fabian Caballero, who recently complained that he has yet to receive any contact about extending his contract, although the chief executive, Peter Marr, has promised to address the matter.

Di Stefano, who claims to be willing to invest between £26m and £50m in the club, has vowed to help Duffy hold on to whoever he wants. Duffy said: "I've been in contact with the board about new contracts and now I'll leave it to them to get things sorted out."

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