Shift swap and helicopter ride lift Deveronvale's Cup hopes

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The Independent Online

In scenes more reminiscent of James Bond than Match of the Day, a key player for non-League Deveronvale was helicoptered off the North Sea oil rig where he works yesterday after arranging a deal to get time off to play in today's Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Partick.

Ian Murray, a striker with the part-time Highland League side - looking to become the first team from their League to reach the quarter-finals in 30 years - thought he was probably going to miss the game after being rostered to work. But after changing shifts, a chopper took him ashore, and he will start. Deveronvale are the only non-leaguers left in the last 16.

Last year's finalists, Hearts and Gretna, are both in action today, travelling to Dunfermline and Hibernian respectively in the weekend's two most intriguing ties. Dunfermline, bottom of the SPL, eliminated Rangers last month, while Hearts, the Cup holders, are rarely far from turmoil. They could be without their 22-year-old captain Christophe Berra because of an ankle injury, but goalkeeper Craig Gordon should return after being dropped last week amid transfer speculation.

Hibernian, who won through to the CIS Cup final in midweek, have lost influential midfielder Kevin Thomson to Rangers since then, while Gretna, top of the First Division and on course for the SPL, will be able to test their top-flight credentials.

Celtic, who play tomorrow at Livingston, have included Paul Hartley in their squad following the midfielder's £1.1m move from Hearts on transfer deadline day. He is eligible to play because he was suspended for Hearts earlier in the competition. Celtic have three doubts over strikers, with Craig Beattie absent with a hamstring problem, and Kenny Miller (hip injury) and Maciej Zurawski (calf strain) struggling to be fit in time.

Rangers have the weekend off, although it will be a fretful one for Dado Prso, 32, who may be forced to retire imminently, depending on the outcome of a consultation with a knee specialist on Tuesday. Prso's agent, Ranko Stojic, said: "We will let the doctor decide whether Dado is OK to play on."

Rangers have already started planning for next season, having agreed a pre-contract deal on Thursday for striker Alan Gow, 24, to move from Falkirk in the summer. Rangers could also make another bid for Motherwell's Australian front man, Scott McDonald. Rangers had a bid rejected on transfer deadline day.

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