Murray targets Christmas as date for Rangers return

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The Independent Football

Ian Murray has targeted a return to the Rangers first team by Christmas after finally recovering from the virus which has kept him out of action all season.

The utility player, 25, was diagnosed with reactive arthritis after returning from the club's pre-season trip to South Africa. He has spent the last four months battling back to fitness and made his comeback in a reserves match yesterday afternoon.

He came through the full 90 minutes against Dunfermline's second string at East End Park, as Gers won 1-0. Murray started the game at left-back and was pencilled in for a 70-minute appearance, but an injury to Antoine Ponroy meant he played the second half at centre-back.

The Gers coach Ian Durrant believed Murray's comeback was the only highlight of a disappointing game. "The fact that Ian Murray played the whole 90 was the best thing to come out of the match," he said. "We had a young team out but so did Dunfermline. They were the better side and passed the ball better."

Murray is now hoping he can force his way into manager Paul Le Guen's plans over the next month or so.

"It obviously depends on how the rest of the boys get on in the next few games," he said. "But to be considered for selection before Christmas would be good for me. To get back before Christmas would be a bonus, but I'll be prepared."

Murray was diagnosed after complaining of tiredness and pain in his arms and legs over the summer. And it has been a frustrating time for a player who has not had the opportunity to impress Le Guen since his arrival at Ibrox.

He said: "Any time out injured is frustrating but this was even more frustrating because it wasn't a football-related injury. But you just have to get on with it. You can be low or you can be positive."

Murray said he never feared for his career despite warnings that his recovery could be lengthy.

"The doctor did say at the start that it would probably be months rather than weeks, so I was prepared."