RANGERS could make Carlos Bocanegra, the United States captain, their wildcard signing to face NK Maribor in their Europa League play-off match on Thursday night.
A number of options came under consideration yesterday as manager Ally McCoist attempts to bolster the centre-back position ahead of the Uefa signing deadline for the trip to Slovenia – at 11pm tomorrow evening – and ease a defensive crisis, with several players ruled out due to injury and suspension for the crucial first-leg match.
The vastly experienced 32-year-old Bocangera, who currently plays with French side St Etienne, has emerged as the main target, although other defenders – all believed to be playing in France – remain on McCoist’s radar in what will have to be a frantic day of business before the squad depart tomorrow.
There will be a fee involved for Bocanegra, who has 93 caps for the United States. The defender has experience of the Barclays Premier League having spent four seasons at Fulham, and joined St Etienne from fellow Ligue One club Rennes for £400,000 last summer. He also captained the United States at the World Cup in Germany.
Bocanegra has one year remaining on his contract and, crucially, fulfils the criteria for an immediate work permit having played far more than the required 75 per cent of his country’s competitive matches in the past two years.
Rangers’ former defender Danny Wilson, who can leave Liverpool on loan this season, had also been touted as a possible option to swell the numbers that have been depleted due to injuries to David Weir, Kyle Bartley, Sasa Papac, Lee McCulloch and Kyle Lafferty, while Steven Whittaker is suspended, and indeed faces a fight to overturn a three-game Uefa ban for his sending off in Malmo two weeks ago.
However, it is believed Wilson will only be considered by Rangers if a move for a defender on a permanent basis does not materialise.
Rangers remain in talks with Swedish club Orebro for one of Bocanegra’s international team-mates, Alejandro Bedoya. They have signed the 24-year-old midfielder on a pre-contract, but McCoist wants a deal done before the transfer window closes on August 31.
“Talks are being held between the two clubs, that’s ongoing,” said Magnus Skoldmark, Orebro’s director of transfers. “We have said we would be positive about a transfer right now. But the two parties need to agree a fee.”
Meanwhile, McCoist confirmed that a £400,000 bid from Bolton Wanderers for Gregg Wylde had been rejected. The 20-year-old winger has rejected a new contract at Ibrox and is into the final year of his current deal.
“The bid from Bolton was not accepted, and I don’t want Gregg going anywhere. Any further bids for him will not be welcomed, either,” said the Rangers manager. “He is a young talent and he feel he has done very well. We want him to sign on again with us, and we want his progress to continue here at this football club.”
McCoist must also wait to see if his club has been successful with an appeal over Whittaker’s red card in Malmo. The defender has had a further two matches added on to an automatic one-match ban, meted out after he was sent off for throwing the ball at Jimmy Durmaz, the Malmo midfielder.
The club are upset at the punishment and have launched an appeal with UEFA to have it reduced.