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Jelavic must stay at Ibrox: McCulloch

Hibernian 0 Rangers 2: Every Rangers player is hoping star striker Nikica Jelavic will not be sold during next month's transfer window, according to team-mate Lee McCulloch.

The Croatian netted a double to secure maximum points in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hibernian in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Jelavic was last week linked with a move to Liverpool and was previously the subject of a failed £6.5m bid from Leicester in August.

Rangers sanctioned the sale of top goalscorer Kenny Miller last January, and McCulloch does not want to see history repeat itself.

He said: “We've just got to pray that Jelavic stays and that he wants to stay and he keeps on playing the way he's playing.

“He loves it here. He's playing well for us and scoring goals. That's all the guys are worried about. He wants to be here and he's playing well — that's all we can ask for.”

Jelavic converted from the penalty spot in the second half, before a header soon after his opener secured the points against Hibs.

McCulloch added: “You can see for yourselves the way he plays and the goals he gets. You sometimes feel a bit sorry for him if he's up front on his own. The two big centre-halves were all over him so we are just delighted he was back on the scoresheet. It was important that we got the three points.

“In the first half, I thought we passed the ball about well but we didn't really create enough for big Jelavic. We changed the system a little bit in the second half and we started creating a few chances.

“Jelavic got two goals and I thought he was brilliant.”

Jelavic's fellow striker Steven Naismith was ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage at the end of October.

The Scottish champions were also without Sone Aluko and Kyle Lafferty — through suspension and injury respectively — for the trip to Edinburgh.

Midfielder McCulloch said: “It's difficult but you just need to get on with it and get through it.”

Aluko was banned for diving after winning a penalty in the 2-1 win over Dunfermline, and Michael Hart believes Rangers were also fortunate to earn a spot-kick this week after he was ruled to have fouled Lee Wallace. He said: “I know it will look like a penalty because I certainly had hold of his arms but I don't know if it would have been given at the other side.

“It's a soft penalty for me. I think he made the most of it. I wasn't particularly pulling him back or holding him too much.”

The defeat to Rangers was new boss Pat Fenlon's first full 90 minutes in charge after last week's game at Motherwell was abandoned at half-time. Hart added: “He's been very good, very positive. We've just been back to basics and working hard. If you work hard he will look after you and I think that's shown in our last two performances.”

Belfast Telegraph


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