Jewell derides Rangers' offer for McCulloch

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The Independent Online

Rangers will return to Wigan with an improved bid for Lee McCulloch after their initial offer of £750,000 for the Scotland midfielder was dismissed as "insulting" by the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell. Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, will probably be prepared to pay slightly more than £1m, and it is understood that McCulloch, while reluctant to put in a written transfer request, will do so if necessary to seal a move to Ibrox.

McCulloch, 28, who has been at Wigan since 2001 and can also play up front, is viewed by Smith as a long-term alternative to Dado Prso, Rangers' 32-year-old Croatian striker who is currently out with a hamstring injury. As the manager of Scotland, Smith handed McCulloch seven of his eight caps.

Wigan are 17th in the Premiership and three points off the relegation places. Jewell is reluctant to see his squad split up, but is unlikely to want to keep a player who makes it clear he is anxious to leave.

McCulloch is close to several key Rangers players, including his good friend Barry Ferguson, the Rangers captain, who also shares the same agent.

Rangers are anticipating their transfer kitty could be boosted by an offer from Paris Saint Germain - now managed by Paul Le Guen, who left Ibrox this month - for Jeremy Clement. Le Guen paid £1.1m to buy Clement from Lyon, and Rangers could ask for as much as £2m. Smith's transfer business is not dependent on that money.

Jewell said the £750,000 McCulloch bid was "derisory, in fact insulting. We paid £700,000 for him in the old Third Division and since then he has gone on to become a Premiership player and an international."

Rangers, who signed David Weir on loan from Everton until the end of the season on Tuesday, are considering bolstering their defence further with an approach for Middlesbrough's Ugo Ehiogu. The 34-year-old former England centre-half is out of contract in the summer and Boro's manager, Gareth Southgate, may allow him to move to Scotland for nothing to get him off the wage bill.

Celtic have had a £500,000 bid for Burnley's Kyle Lafferty rejected, which will probably end their interest in the 19-year-old Northern Ireland striker. Burnley have said they want as much as £6m.

Celtic are pondering an improved offer but Burnley's manager, Steve Cotterill, has been bullish about keeping Lafferty. "The bid that has been made is nowhere near acceptable," Cotterill said. "With those words we are not encouraging anyone to come back with a bigger bid because he is not for sale."

Celtic's manager, Gordon Strachan, has already missed out on one Irish teenager this month, when Arsenal's 18-year-old striker Anthony Stokes decided to sign for Roy Keane's Sunderland instead.

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