THE appointment of Kenny Dalglish as an international talent scout for Rangers seems sure to be confirmed this week - but these duties, which he has been performing on an ad hoc basis for the Ibrox club already, will form only part of a more exacting brief for the former Liverpool and Blackburn manager.

The other areas in which Dalglish will be active involve his second love - golf. My understanding is that Scotland's most capped footballer will be operating on behalf of the Carnegie Partnership, the public relations branch of Rangers chairman David Murray's business empire.

His duties there will be to liaise with top names in the sports and entertainment world and bring them to tournaments at the new Loch Lomond course. The Carnegie Group were involved in the launch of the high-profile tournament there in the autumn.

Further major initiatives are being set up and Dalglish's expertise and reputation will be utilised.

Even in his managerial days, Dalglish played frequently in pro-am tournaments involving leading golfers, other sportsmen and stars from show business. The work he will do for Rangers will therefore be only a part of his duties and is likely to continue in the same understated way in which it has begun.

The one-time Celtic player has already looked at footballers who have been recommended to Rangers manager Walter Smith and subsequently has given his reports to the Ibrox manager. Dalglish will not have a high-profile position with the Scottish champions. That is something he will attempt to avoid.

Nor will be become involved at any level with the Glasgow club other than these scouting arrangements. These will not interfere with his work for Carnegie, where the PR element Dalglish provides is considered vital by Murray and by American millionaire Lyle Anderson, who owns the Loch Lomond course.

For Rangers, Dalglish will be on hand to look at players for manager Smith in all corners of the rapidly shrinking globe. Meanwhile, as Dalglish is set to have his multi-faceted appointment confirmed, Rangers defender Alan McLaren was pushing away any misgivings the Ibrox support may harbour over the looming departure of club captain Richard Gough in the summer.

The 4-1 win over Hearts saw McLaren's second appearance of the season after he played for part of the match against Kilmarnock at Ibrox last week. This time he remained on field for the entire 90 minutes and said afterwards: ``I feel really good after playing twice inside a week.

``It may still be that I shall be forced to miss out on some of the games over the holiday period, because I don't know whether I am ready yet for two games inside 48 hours in each of the next couple of weeks.''

The form McLaren displayed at his old stamping ground at the weekend was a boost not only for Rangers but, surely, for Scotland, too. At the time of his knee operation, immediately following last season's Scottish Cup final, international team manager Craig Brown clung to the hope that the player would be fit to play at Euro96.

These dreams were dashed by complications that surrounded the operation. Indeed, the central defender, who was out of action for seven months, suffered another setback when he needed a second bout of surgery as he attempted a return to full training earlier this season.

``I simply needed a little bit of cleaning up work done. It was nothing too serious and I have been perfectly okay since then,'' he said.

``The only problem I did have was trying to get match fitness and then finding reserve games being postponed. That's why I've come back to the first team so quickly.''

However, while McLaren, who is generally seen as Gough's successor as club captain, has returned to a team at the top of the premier division with a huge 14 points lead over their Old Firm rivals, Celtic, he still sounded a cautionary note as he looked towards the nine-in-a-row championship sequence he hopes he can help Rangers achieve.

``As far as we are concerned in the dressing room, we are just five points in front,'' he pointed out after the Tynecastle victory. ``Celtic have games in hand and these are matches where they can cut into our lead.''

``I think we all realise, however, that it will be important if we can come out of the Christmas and New Year matches still holding a big lead. That could be crucial as far as the title is concerned.''

The young man is even beginning to talk like a captain.

q Rangers show strength - Page 3