Rangers take on the unknown

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The Independent Online
Scottish football

DAVID McKINNEY

As they contemplate a Tennent's Scottish Cup third-round tie against either Deveronvale or Keith, both from the Highland League, Rangers fans have been left bemused this weekend by more than the prospect of unknown opposition.

Reports suggest that Manchester United are preparing to make an offer for their gifted Dane, Brian Laudrup, who could depart for Old Trafford in the summer - while at the same time the Brazilian striker, Jardel, is due in Scotland this week to hold talks with Rangers and to see Ibrox for himself. Having already agreed in principle to sign, the problem of a work permit will be avoided if the player can secure a Portuguese passport.

Celtic kept Rangers in sight (eight points behind with two games in hand) with a 1-0 win over Motherwell. Victory extended their unbeaten Premier Division run to 15 games and now they face four away games in a row, starting with a rearranged fixture at Raith Rovers tomorrow before Sunday's match at Aberdeen. The only blow for Celtic's manager, Tommy Burns, was a jaw injury to his young right-back Jackie McNamara, which could keep the Scotland Under-21 player out of action for up to a month.

Celtic, like Rangers, have drawn non-league opposition away from home: either Whitehill Welfare or Fraserburgh - but it is unlikely that Fraserburgh, from the Highland League, or Whitehill, an Edinburgh-based side from the East of Scotland League, would be able to entertain the holders at their own ground. Similarly, Aberdeen's Pittodrie stadium is likely to play host to Rangers' third-round tie.

Three Premier Division sides will fall at the first hurdle in the Cup, with the top tie being the game at Fir Park between Motherwell and Aberdeen. The other all-Premier ties are Hibernian v Kilmarnock and Heart of Midlothian v Partick Thistle.

TENNENT'S SCOTTISH CUP Third-round draw: Deveronvale or Keith v Rangers; Berwick Rangers or Annan Athletic v Dundee United; Ross County v Forfar Athletic; Falkirk v Stenhousemuir; Clydebank v Stirling Albion; Whitehill Welfare or Fraserburgh v Celtic; Caledonian Thistle v Spartans or East Fife; Hibernian v Kilmarnock; Hearts v Partick Thistle; Clyde or Brechin v Dundee; Motherwell v Aberdeen; Dumbarton v Airdrie; Hamilton Academicals v St Johnstone; Raith Rovers v Queen's Park; Dunfermline v St Mirren; Morton v Montrose. (Ties to be played weekend of Saturday 27 January).

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