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DEJA BLUE; Walter: Having Andy back will be like landing a new signing at last.

Byline: ANTHONY HAGGERTY

RANGERS boss Walter Smith reckons having Andy Webster back at Ibrox next season will be like welcoming a new signing.

The defender has been a revelation since joining Dundee United on a season-long loan and has even been named captain by Arabs boss Peter Houston.

But Smith - who hasn't been able to splash out on any new arrivals for the last two years due to a financial crisis at Ibrox - reckons Rangers will reap the benefits next term.

Benefit The Gers gaffer believes he will land a player who has rekindled his love for football after three years in the wilderness.

Webster was a Scotland regular before a bitter contract dispute with Hearts and unsuccessful move to Wigan stalled his career. The 27-year-old came back to the SPL with Rangers three years ago but injuries then took a heavy toll, limiting him to just one top-team appearance at Ibrox.

However, he is now back in form thanks to the Tannadice loan deal and Smith can't wait to welcome him back.

The gaffer said: "The reason for loaning out Andy was to get him a year of football.

"He has done exceptionally well. For a loan player to be captain of United shows what they think of him.

"When Andy comes back next season he will be a more than welcome addition to our squad.

"The dispute with Hearts and injuries caused him to have few games over three years.

"So it was important he got himself regular football.

"It has been a huge benefit to him and hopefully it will be a huge benefit to us when he returns."

Many view Webster as one of Smith's signings - but it was actually predecessor Paul Le Guen who snapped him up.

Walter said: "It is a popular misconception that I brought Andy to the club. I never signed him - he was here before me.

"I thought he was a good player but the Webster ruling had a detrimental effect on his career. Other players must be careful if they are going to use that.

"But Andy is enjoying football again and I hope he can show his Tannadice form at Ibrox.

Fussed "He comes back to Murray Park quite a bit and you can see his confidence is back.

"When he was fit he got into my team and scored against Gretna. Unfortunately he got injured again straight away.

"I played him when I was Scotland manager but then he had the dispute with Hearts."

Webster won't be able to play under the terms of his loan when Gers head to Tannadice on Wednesday. And the Ibrox men could seal the title there for the second year running if Celtic lose against Motherwell on Tuesday.

Smith isn't fussed where his players finally lift the SPL trophy - he just wants it over and done with as soon as possible.

The Ibrox boss said: "We are in a great position and just need two more wins to be sure. But United will be tough."

Smith refused to be drawn on suggestions Webster could even scoop Player of the Year ahead of Ibrox stars like Steven Davis, David Weir, Kris Boyd, Allan McGregor and Lee McCulloch.

He said: "We have some excellent players at Rangers and sometimes that gets lost. They've done well all season.

"As for Webster being a candidate? I'm not the one who chooses these things."

CAPTION(S):

Andy man: Smith reckons Webby will be a hit Reborn: Loan star Webster will return to Ibrox with his confidence brimming
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 11, 2010
Words:590
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