DEREK MCINNES has already made one big decision this year. Now he could have to make an even tougher one in the coming days.

Turning down the chance to join Sunderland is one thing, but saying no to Rangers is quite another. If he does, he will do so in the knowledge that he may not get asked again.

McInnes has long been the obvious choice for the Light Blues board to turn to following the sacking of Pedro Caixinha and Dave King now looks set to sanction a move to bring the 46-year-old back to Ibrox.

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Gers fans have become increasingly frustrated in recent weeks as the search for Caixinha’s successor has rumbled on and many will ask just why it has taken so long for them to eventually glance at the Premiership table and look a few miles up the road.

It would have made sense to pick up the phone to Stewart Milne during the last international break but Rangers have instead waited until after the double-header with the Dons before playing their hand.

In the face of increasing discontent and growing pressure, the Gers hierarchy refused to rush, but now they must press ahead and get a deal done.

The timing of it all is just another twist in the tale but Rangers will hope McInnes is the main protagonist in the next chapter of the Ibrox drama.

The Pittodrie boss has often spoken about the strong relationship he enjoys with Milne and his focus on the job in hand, both in the here and now and the future as Aberdeen look to progress on the park and off it.

But the feeling that he has taken the Dons as far as he can is as pertinent today as it was in the summer when Sunderland came calling and offered him the chance to move to the Championship.

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On that occasion, McInnes’ judgement proved to be spot on. A switch to the Stadium of Light wouldn’t have been the right one for his career and the quick demise of Simon Grayson and the plight of the Black Cats proves why.

That is not to say that the moment isn’t right for McInnes to move on, though. The questions over when and to where could be answered sooner rather than later.

Second place in the Premiership is the glass ceiling for Aberdeen and all McInnes can do now is continually bang his head against it and see Celtic on the other side.

If he has ambitions of leading a team to the title then he will have to make a move. The timing may not be perfect, but it may have come.

The task of overhauling Brendan Rodgers’ side would be daunting at Ibrox but he would have far more of a chance than he currently does.

Rangers are still some way adrift of their Old Firm rivals, but McInnes will have faith in his own abilities, both as a coach and in the transfer market, to be confident that he could take the Light Blues forward in the coming years, if given the chance.

As King stated at the Annual General Meeting on Thursday, Rangers have to take a long-term approach here. There is no quick fix and it could take all of the three years King spoke about to fully transform the Gers’ fortunes.

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Given the budget he would have to work with, there is no doubt that McInnes would make Rangers comfortably the second best side in Scotland.

But the questions Rangers fans are asking are the ones that can’t be answered for definite. Could a McInnes side beat Celtic to the title and lift domestic silverware? Could he take the Gers into Europe on a consistent basis? Only time will tell.

Those are the targets that must be set and met whether it is McInnes or anyone else in the Ibrox hot seat.

Some will see it as mission impossible. If he has ambitions of returning to his former club and being successful in Scottish football, it is a challenge that McInnes may feel he has to accept, however.

It would be a big call to leave Aberdeen. It would be an even bigger one to say no to Rangers.