Steven Naismith yesterday provided the biggest test yet of Kilmarnock's resolve by submitting a written transfer request to the club.

The move is expected to encourage Rangers to make a final offer for the player whom Kilmarnock value at £2m and leaves the Rugby Park club in a weakened bargaining position.

The Scotland attacker has suffered in silence as three previous bids from Rangers, the team he has supported since childhood, have been rejected by the Rugby Park chairman, Michael Johnston.

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, hinted last week the club had ended their interest in Naismith, having grown frustrated by Kilmarnock's reluctance to negotiate. The Ibrox club's last offer of £1.5m, comprising appearance-based add-ons, was rejected, with Johnston adamant the Rugby Park club would not accept less than £2m for a player with three years left on his contract.

An unnamed club, widely speculated to be Celtic, were expected to submit a more substantial bid this week and Johnston last night insisted the transfer request would not affect the club' stance.

"It doesn't make any difference to the club's position," said Johnston. "I don't see how that is going to make life easier for him in the short-term. "There's been no formal word from Rangers since the start of the month. Steven's agent has indicated they are willing to come back in with another bid but we have an ongoing dialogue with another major club."

Should Naismith's move to Ibrox go through, he will not feature against FK Zeta when Rangers begin their Champions League qualification campaign next week after the registration deadline for that fixture passed at midnight last night.

The Montenegrins' preparations have been hampered by a failure to obtain enough visas for the squad, with Zeta only issued with 20 permits by the British Embassy in Belgrade.

The club alerted UEFA and Rangers of the problem yesterday amid fears they would have to switch the legs. Vladimir Sisevic, the Zeta director, has requested the help of the Montenegrin government and will make an appointment with the British Embassy today.