Rangers planning new deals for stars

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The Independent Football

Rangers assistant manager Kenny McDowall is eager to bring in new signings to Ibrox - but not before they have rewarded the players who clinched three consecutive titles.

Manager Ally McCoist has confirmed his interest in re-signing Carlos Cuellar from Aston Villa, but he is also looking to tie up the likes of Allan McGregor, Steven Whittaker and Steven Davis on long-term deals amid the much-improved financial situation secured by Craig Whyte's takeover.

And McDowall revealed talks with 41-year-old captain David Weir were high on the agenda.

McDowall told Rangers TV: "The priority before we bring anyone in is to look after the guys who have served the club well and deserve to be looked after.

"Davie has been an immense guy to work with both on and off the park and I think he's had everyone's respect and deservedly so.

"We'll talk with Davie once his holiday is over and see what his plans are and see where that takes us.

"It's an important position that he plays and we're working hard at that area. We have targets there as well so we'll wait to see what happens."

Rangers have also been linked with a move for French-born Tunisian defender Yohan Benalouane.

The 24-year-old was a confirmed target for Walter Smith last season but he is now more accessible after his St Etienne contract expired following his loan spell with Serie A side Cesena.

McDowall believes movement in the transfer market will occur later this month as McCoist, fresh from a scouting trip to Argentina, looks to provide support to the players who have taken Rangers successfully through tough times off the park.

McDowall said: "We're looking at the moment and we have targets in mind, but it's obviously still reasonably quiet at this moment in time in the transfer window.

"I'm sure over the next couple of weeks it will pick up and hopefully we can get one or two in.

"The supporters deserve some new faces as well. Fans always look at this time of year at what new players are going to come in to the team and I'm sure they will be as excited as we are."

Rangers were last summer forced to wait until the end of the transfer window in August to secure main signing Nikica Jelavic from Rapid Vienna, who were initially reluctant to sell.

"Hopefully we won't need to wait as long as we did for Nikica because we got a little impatient on that one too," McDowall said.

"It was well worth it in the end, but we would hope to act a little more quickly this year and hopefully get one or two in for the start of pre-season on June 27, but we'll need to wait and see."

McDowall has stepped up from his role as first-team coach and is relishing the added responsibility following Smith's retirement.

The former Celtic reserve-team coach said: "It's definitely a bit more responsibility but the gaffer has given us a good education so we're looking forward to the job next season.

"Pressure to keep the success going is what comes with the territory when you're involved with Rangers.

"We appreciate that and that is what we aim to do, to be successful. We want to win titles and win cups and we know that's what you have to do to stay in the job."