RANGERS did not attempt to reach a pre-contract agreement with Ryan McGowan before he decided on a move to China, according to the assistant manager Kenny McDowall.

Rangers tried to sign McGowan along with David Templeton in the summer and were linked with another attempt to get him from Hearts on a pre-contract agreement when the current window opened on Tuesday. Instead, the 23-year-old Australian will join the Chinese club Shandong Luneng Taishan.

After Rangers had beaten Annan Athletic 3-1 to win their 11th consecutive third division game yesterday, McDowall said no new approach had been made to McGowan. "It's not a secret that we tried to sign him before the transfer embargo came in so he's obviously a player we were interested in at that time. We haven't spoken to him at this moment in time."

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Rangers are optimistic goalkeeper Neil Alexander will sign the new one-year contract on offer despite the player preferring a longer deal.

They will learn the extent of Darren Cole's ankle injury today. Cole, 20, made only his second start for Rangers but in the second half twisted the same ankle which had been hurt previously, keeping him out of the game for several months.

Annan's interim manager, Euan Brydson, praised Rangers for pulling so far ahead in the league after dropping early points. "Rangers now know what they are up against week in, week out. They have been at every ground and every team has shown a level of performance against them and they are working hard for everything."