THE final days of the January transfer window are certain to see more incomings and outgoings in Scottish football as clubs seek to bolster their title challenges or strengthen their battles to avoid relegation.

By this time next week John Souttar, the Hearts and Scotland centre half who has signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers, could very well have completed a move from Tynecastle to Ibrox.

The Scottish champions had an initial offer of £300,000 for a player they will land for nothing in the summer rejected by their cinch Premiership rivals last week.

Craig Levein, the former manager and director of football at the Edinburgh outfit, stated on BBC Scotland radio programme Sportsound on Sunday that it will take a bid of “more than double” that to land the defender now.

Will Hearts continue to play hardball for their vice-captain? They are bidding to finish third in the league and he has been one of their best performers. Will Rangers be prepared to meet the asking price? The arrival of such a talented footballer would give them a lift at a crucial juncture. It is difficult to call.

But Marvin Andrews, the former Ibrox centre half who lifted the Scottish title on Helicopter Sunday back in 2005, believes that Giovanni van Bronckhorst has no need to bring in Souttar now if Connor Goldson remains in Govan. 

Goldson looks certain to move on when his contract expires at the end of June and return to England where Championship clubs West Brom and Nottingham Forest are both interested in securing his services.

However, Andrews, who turned up at the youth football tournament organised by the Charlie Miller Football Academy and the Nick Maughan Foundation at Toryglen this weekend to hand out medals to kids, thinks that Van Bronckhorst is well covered in the vital area just now.  

“I don’t think Rangers will see the benefit of Souttar joining at this present time,” he said. “They have Goldson at the back and the centre backs are doing really well. They won the league last season with the centre backs that they had.

“We don’t know the situation with Goldson at the moment, don’t know if he is going to leave or stay. We will just need to wait and see. But I don’t think Rangers need Souttar at this specific time.”

Souttar was booed by his own supporters in the Premiership encounter with St Johnstone last week - his first appearance for Hearts since it became public knowledge that he had signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers - and was left out of their squad at the weekend. 

However, Andrews is confident the player can silence his critics by performing to a high standard for Robbie Neilson’s team, who take on Celtic at Tynecastle in the Premiership tomorrow evening, in their remaining matches.

“I don’t think he needs to leave Hearts now,” he said. “I was in a similar situation to him in 2004. I signed a pre-contract with Rangers when I was at Livingston. I played out the remainder of the season with Livingston before I went to Rangers in the summer.

“I did the best I could, I reached the highest level I could have at Livi. I couldn’t give them any more. The Livingston fans were happy for me.

“The Hearts fans have to realise that he has done everything he possibly could for Hearts. Unfortunately, he has been injured for a lot of the time he was at Hearts. But they have to realise that if it wasn’t Rangers he was joining it would be somebody down south. That is just how life goes now.

“They will come around if he plays well for them. At this present moment in time Hearts are paying his wages. That is who he is employed by at this present time.

“The pre-contract doesn’t mean anything until the end of the season when it kicks in. He has to continue to give everything for Hearts until he makes the transition in the summer.”

Devoutly religious Andrews famously refused to have surgery on an anterior cruciate ligament injury during the 2004/05 season because he believed that his faith in God would keep him fit – and he duly went on to help Rangers win the Scottish title on the final day.

He has, though, been impressed by how Souttar has recovered from a succession of series injuries in his career and thinks the mental strength he has shown to regain full fitness indcates that he can cope with life at Ibrox.

“When you play for Rangers the scrutiny becomes really, really big,” he said. “The slightest little thing that you do wrong, you can get a negative headline from it. At Rangers you have to win every game. Losing is not an option, drawing is not an option.

“Rangers dropping points against Aberdeen last week became the talking in Scottish football right away. They can’t drop points wherever they play. That is the difference between playing for Hearts and playing or Rangers. Time alone will tell if he can make that transition.

“The important thing with injuries is having patience, but at Rangers there is no patience. You don’t get a lot of chances which makes it difficult.”

Andrews added: “But I am really impressed with the man. He has signed a pre-contract with Rangers and I hope he can stay fit and fulfil his potential, not only with Rangers but also with Scotland going forward.

“He is a fantastic player and has been unfortunate with injuries. I really wish him all the best and hope he can stay fit for the next five or six years.”

Rangers’ lead at the top of the Premiership was reduced to four points last week when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Aberdeen at Pittodrie in their first match back after the winter shutdown.

But Andrews, who will be an interested observer when James Tavernier and his team mates take on Livingston at Ibrox tomorrow night, feels the disappointing result is no cause for alarm.

“I am not surprised at what happened,” he said. “The league had just started again after a three week break. That midweek all the home teams won apart from Aberdeen who drew with Rangers. I don’t think it was the worst result. It could have been worse, they could have lost the game. They got a point and are still four points clear.

“Pittodrie is never an easy place to play. There is a lot of history between Aberdeen and Rangers which makes it more demanding. It was always going to be a tough game for Rangers.”

“There are always ups and downs. That is what makes winning a league so special. It is never easy sailing to the finishing line. The race is not for the swiftest it is for who endures to the end. There are going to be more ups and downs this season. It is all about who gets to the finishing line the strongest.”