RANGERS team doctor professor Stewart Hillis held his hands up yesterday and said that, in retrospect, the Ibrox club would have been better waiting until long-term injury victim Daniel Prodan was back to full match fitness before they signed him.

The admission by Hillis came as the Romanian, who missed out on the World Cup through injury, was beginning another programme designed to bring him back to full fitness.

As for the circumstances surrounding the signing of Prodan at the end of July from Atletico Madrid when he was still recovering from a knee operation, Hillis said he took full responsibility for the matter as he was the club doctor.

''I have to take the responsibility,'' said Hillis.

''When the player came in July we looked at the medical details and saw that a straight-forward cartilage operation had been done. The operation he had done was a good job, no question about that, and he does not need another one.

''There is no suggestion of hidden information, we have all the details from Spain and Romania. However, it is a decision that is individual to each player. When you are going to sign someone how far do you take the injury back - three months, six, or a year.''

Hillis made it clear that he felt the recovery routine they had put Prodan on would ensure he would play again at the highest level.

Prodan signed for Rangers for #2.2m after protracted negotiations and after passing a stringent medical at Ibrox at the end of July.

However, since then the defender, who missed out on France 1998 because of the knee injury, had only played a handful of games for the Rangers Under-21 team as an over-age player.

Professor Hillis said that Prodan has been sent for scans, had an exploratory operation earlier this week, and had now been put on a five-week recovery course.

With Colin Hendry also at the club, there would have been great competition for a starting place in the Rangers defence if Prodan had been fit. He made his name with Steaua Bucharest before moving to Spanish football, where he managed to record one of the worst disciplinary records in Primera Liga history. In his first season in 17 games he collected 11 yellow cards and one red, then in the following season, when he also played 17 times, he collected 11 bookings and another sending-off.

Prodan is the latest in a long line of Rangers players through the years who have suffered major injury after having signed for the club. Of the present crop, Gabriel Amato took a while to make his debut after having picked up a leg injury, although there was better news yesterday on Seb Rozental, another long-term injury victim.

The Chilean returns to the first-team squad for the first time in seven months for today's match at Dunfermline, however Hendry will miss the game.

Rozental, who is likely to be on the bench, said he was delighted to be back in the Rangers first team set-up. ''I now feel as I did when I first arrived here nearly two-and-a-half years ago,'' he said. ''My knee is good, there is no pain and I am looking to the future. I have to be patient because I was out for a long time, and although I may have difficulties to begin with, I believe I can be the player I was before.''

Rozental admitted it had been difficult to cope with the injury problems he had had at Rangers, but letters of support from fans from all over the world had helped.

''A real man shows his strength in dark situations, and when life is not going well you have to fight,'' said Rozental. ''I am surprised to be in the squad but happy with the situation. I don't think I am ready for 90 minutes but perhaps 30 or 45 minutes, depending on what the coach wants.''

Despite his comeback, Rangers manager Dick Advocaat is still on the lookout for a striker, and a member of their backroom staff will go to watch the Brazilian, Christian, sometime next week.

Advocaat is delighted to have Rozental back in the squad and he praised the way he had made progress over the past few months.

Meanwhile, Celtic head coach Dr Jozef Venglos has claimed that the squad he inherited from Wim Jansen is capable of winning the Premier League. ''If the players play to their best form consistently, they can compete and win the championship,'' he said. ''They are the same players who did it last season.''

He was in similar mode when queried about the lack of a goals in the league, saying: ''They scored goals last season and if they are in form, they will score goals again.''

The Slovakian coach refuses to be depressed by the dismal display of his team against St Johnstone on Wednesday, when they went down 1-0.

''We know that was not a good performance but I am sure the players will do much better tomorrow against Hearts.''

Venglos has been defensive of his squad, despite the fact that they have won only two of their last nine games, although he showed signs of exasperation and annoyance after the midweek defeat.

He was back on the familiar tack again yesterday, however. ''I have not changed my mind after what I have seen since I came here. The players at this club are quality players.''