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SCOTTISH FOOTBALL : Ferguson favoured

Despite a four-game domestic suspension Duncan Ferguson, the Everton striker, will be named by Craig Brown today in a 19-man squad to travel to Russia for the European Championship qualifier on 29 March.

Brown has been impressed by the way Ferguson has revitalised the Merseyside club since his move from Rangers, and in anticipating playing the lanky striker in Moscow he said: "I want Duncan to do for Scotland what he has done for Everton. He's lifted the team and scored vital goals. But he has only threatened to do that for his country."

It is likely that Brown will ask Ferguson to provide a greater work-rate for his country than he might have done in the past, feeling as he does that the strikers will form the front line of defence against the Russians.

While Brown will bring in one striker, he and Rangers could be without the services of another for a while. Ally McCoist will visit a specialist in Glasgow this week for a muscle scan on the ankle injury which has limited him to one full game this season.

On Saturday Rangers, without several injured players, lost on their second visit to Tynecastle in recent weeks, 2-1 to Hearts following their 4-2 defeat in the Scottish Cup. John Robertson and John Millar scored for Hearts before Brian Laudrup pulled one back for Rangers.

Their lead at the top was cut to 12 points by Motherwell, who beat Dundee United 2-1 with goals by Alex Burns and Dougie Arnott. With a game in hand over Rangers, Motherwell can cut that lead to nine points with victory over Hibs on Wednesday.

United, however, remain in relegation trouble and after the departure of Ivan Golac, their manager, Gordon Wallace has a tough job ahead of him.

United's hopes of staying in the Premier Division received a further blow when Aberdeen collected a point in a 0-0 draw with Hibs. The Dons, who are in second bottom position, are now three points behind Dundee United and Falkirk.