McLeish moves in with offer to revive Ilie's stalled career

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The Independent Football

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, has set up a move for the Romanian World Cup striker Adrian Ilie - and can sign him for nothing.

Ilie has cost millions in his career at places like Steaua Bucharest, Galatasaray and Valencia - but he is now out of work after quitting the Spanish side Alaves. And McLeish has stepped in to offer Ilie the chance to revive his career.

Ilie, still only 29, is currently training with his local club Craiova in Romania and is due to head over within a fortnight once his paperwork is cleared. If he impresses he can sign straight away.

The striker has a good pedigree. He scored against England in the World Cup finals in 1998, and was a member of the Valencia squad that made the Champions' League final.

However, his move to Alaves went wrong when they got relegated and they could not afford to keep him. Ilie was shocked when no one came up with a move for him that matched his demands of around £1m-a-year - and he headed home in disgust.

Ilie will need a work permit to play for Rangers, but he has been a member of the Romanian squad often enough in the past two years to get over that hurdle without too many problems. The wages should not be a worry either, with the length of contract the only area that will need to be discussed.

Meanwhile, Rangers have demanded the return of a compensation deposit plus interest from Dundee over the transfer of defender Zura Khizanishvili.

A Premier League tribunal ruled the Dark Blues should receive nothing for the Georgian international after Rangers' lawyers argued a letter to the player offering him new terms at Dundee did not constitute a legal approach.

Rangers made an initial offer of £75,000 in compensation which the Tayside club said was not acceptable. But, within the terms of the SPL rules, even if Dundee had not accepted the offer, the club were entitled to bill the Ibrox club for half of the compensation sum offered.

The Dark Blues invoiced the Glasgow giants for that figure in July, which was paid. However, Dundee have now received a letter from Rangers asking for the return of that money plus £450 interest to the bemusement of everyone at Dens Park. A Dundee spokesman said: "We will leave others to judge the appropriateness of Rangers' actions.

"We have not stayed still on this issue. We remain confident of being able to present a very strong appeal to the SPL decision and will lodge papers before the end of the week."

Dundee were already smarting after the SPL ruling last week where they believed they were entitled to a seven-figure sum after nurturing and developing the player, who was under the age of 23.

The Celtic midfielder Alan Thompson has targeted this weekend's meeting with Dundee United for his comeback from injury. Thompson suffered a calf strain on the back of a hamstring injury and has not featured for the Hoops since the 4-0 win over Aberdeen in October.

But he has fought his way back to fitness and is hoping to be in contention for Saturday's trip to Tannadice - and force his way back into the plans of the Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, before Tuesday's Champions' League game against Bayern Munich.

Thompson said: "I don't usually suffer from strains and pulls and I've had two in the last six weeks so it would be nice to think I've done my share of sitting on the sidelines for the season.

"It's good to get back and hopefully now that'll be me. Hopefully, I can get a good week of training under my belt and then be in contention for the trip to Tannadice."

Thompson's injuries could not have come at a worst time. He missed out on the last European tie against Anderlecht - denying the England assistant coach, Tord Grip, the chance to see him in action and ruined any chance he had of being named in the national squad for the friendly against Denmark.

But the midfielder hopes that more top-class displays for Celtic will mean he will be given another chance by the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson. Thompson said: "It has been a frustrating time with the injuries because I've missed some big games. The most frustrating aspect of all was missing the Anderlecht game.

"The most important thing for me just now is to get myself fit and playing well and the main thing is that Celtic are winning and doing well.

"It was disappointing that I was injured when Tord Grip was supposedly coming to the Champions' League game but it's up to me now. I need to keep this kind of form up for Celtic and see what happens."

However, not all the injury news is good for Celtic. The Hoops' Scotland Under-21 international Shaun Maloney is being monitored closely after being carried off in the game against Croatia on Tuesday night. He was struggling with a tight calf when he arrived at Parkhead yesterday morning and is a major doubt for both Saturday's match and the visit of Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, the Dundee United manager, Ian McCall, is set to offer Andy McLaren a permanent contract. The former Reading and Kilmarnock striker is on a short-term deal but has impressed this season. McCall now is aiming to tie him into a longer agreement before the start of December.

He said: "The transfer window is approaching, but my priority right now is to get Andy fixed up inside the next couple of weeks. He's played very well since he came back here, and has been a real asset for us. We are very keen to hang on to him."