ALLY McCOIST appeared to have lost the club's Northern Ireland connection when Steven Davis and Kyle Lafferty both quit the club – but the Rangers manager could be ready to land their countryman Dean Shiels.
The out-of-contract Kilmarnock striker has leapt to the top of the Ibrox club's list of summer signing targets after McCoist identified him as one of the players he would like to land before the end of the transfer window.
With a 12-month transfer embargo set to kick in at the end of August, Rangers are having to sign a batch of players they consider good enough to help take them through the divisions in successive seasons. McCoist has drawn up an extensive list of experienced SPL players who are currently out-of-contract with a view to offering them three-year deals to help take the club back to the top flight.
Shiels, who is available on a Bosman after his deal with Kilmarnock expired at the end of last term, is one of the names McCoist is thought to have passed on for newco owner Charles Green to try and tie up. Shiels was shortlisted for the PFA Scotland Player's Player of the Year award last term for the role he played in helping Kilmarnock lift the League Cup and with his impressive displays in the SPL.
And former Ibrox midfielder Charlie Miller reckons he would be an excellent signing for Rangers. He said: "Shiels performed really well last season and you would have to say, outwith of the Old Firm, he was one of the best players in the country.
"So if Rangers managed to sign him then it would be a great signing. If you are picking players who were really impressive in the SPL last season then he would certainly be one of the players you would pick out.
"His fellow professionals obviously thought the same because he was shortlisted for their own Player of the Year award and any time I watched him he always looked the part for Kilmarnock."
Miller went on: "He is a confident player who always wants on the ball and he is really good at setting up chances in and around the penalty area.
"So it goes without saying he would more than impress in the lower leagues if Rangers were to sign him although I need to say I obviously don't know exactly who Ally's signing targets are and if he is actually a player he would like to sign."
McCoist is desperately short of players who can operate in the final third with Steven Naismith, Kyle Lafferty, Sone Aluko, Salim Kerkar, John Fleck and Andrew Little all leaving the club.
It has pretty much left him with next to no experienced attacking options at his disposal and Miller knows getting players on board who can score goals and create chances is a priority for McCoist.
"Ally basically has to sign players good enough to not only make sure the club win the Third Division but also the Second Division because the transfer embargo will then begin and that means no new players for another year," said Miller.
"It means Rangers won't be able to sign any new players until the following January transfer window so that makes it so much more difficult, especially so soon after so many players have left the club."
As well as Shiels, others thought to be on McCoist's wanted list are out-of-contract Hearts pair Ian Black and Craig Beattie, Motherwell midfielder Steven Jennings and Dundee United duo Garry Kenneth and Scott Robertson.
He said: "Gretna managed to come all the way through the divisions by signing players who were good enough to play in the SPL and Rangers have got to do the same to make sure they gain promotion every season.
"The supporters will stick by Ally and the players, although I'm sure everyone with Rangers won't forget what has happened over the last few months. But right now it is about moving forward and trying to prepare for the future.
"It goes without saying new players will have to be brought in and if Ally can sign players such as Shiels and the other players who have been mentioned and, adding to the guys who are already on board, I'm sure they can keep moving toward the SPL."