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Andrew Little shown Rangers exit after failing to seal new contract

By Andy Newport

Northern Ireland international Andy Little has been released by Rangers.

And almost certainly joining him in going through the exit door is former under-21 international defender Chris Hegarty.

The Fermanagh man's contract was up at the end of the season and he has now been told by manager Ally McCoist he will not be offered a new deal, bringing an end to an eight-year stay at Ibrox for the 25-year-old.

Little has endured a frustrating campaign this season after breaking his jaw and cheekbone against Dunfermline in November.

He underwent surgery, ruling him out for a couple of months, but Little never really got a run in the first team again after that.

In total, he netted 38 goals for the club, including his March 2012 winner in a 3-2 derby victory against Celtic before the club was liquidated that summer and demoted to the bottom tier of Scottish football.

Little released a statement via Twitter, in which he said: "I'll be leaving Rangers at the end of the month, to consider other clubs in the UK and abroad and move on in my football career.

"I've loved being a Ranger – my time at the club was very special for me – and I want to thank people for that. My gratitude to all the staff at Murray Park who have been so supportive and kind to me every single day at training. Leaving them behind and driving out of the gates today was difficult, but I know I have made some true friends for life.

"Thank you also to all the coaches and the backroom staff, especially Ian Durrant for bringing me to the club in the first place. I want to thank the manager and Walter Smith for bringing me into the first team as a young lad – the game time I had while Rangers were still in the top flight was invaluable to me starting out. In particular, the sensation of scoring against Celtic in a packed Ibrox is a feeling that will live with me forever."

Hegarty was the first player to sign for the newco Rangers two years ago.

He played a part in the club's promotion campaign in 2012-13, and was awarded a two-year extension, but sustained an injury on the opening day of the season and hasn't played since.

Despite having 12 months remaining on his contract, Dungannon man Hegarty has been linked with a move to Linfield.

The 21-year-old's agent, Stephen McCranor, said: "Both Chris and the club are in agreement that he needs first team football.

"He remains a Rangers player at this stage, but the likelihood is he will start next season at another club."

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