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FOOTBALL: IT'S ATTILA THE GUN!; Hot-shot Hateley is back in town with Celtic in his sights.

Mark Hateley is set to shoot down Celtic tomorrow after a sensational return to Rangers.

The 35-year-old striker, nicknamed Attila, is at Ibrox this morning to complete his transfer from QPR in time for the Old Firm derby of the decade.

And Rangers assistant boss Archie Knox boasted last night: "We are hoping Mark can turn the clock back five years.

"His arrival should give the other players a real boost going into this match and we should see that in training in the morning.

"They've already cleared a space in the dressing room for him - his normal bit!"

Hateley's agent Dennis Roach claimed his player is "over the moon" at the prospect a Glasgow return.

Roach said: " He can't wait to pull on a blue shirt again.

"He has had a bit of a miserable time at QPR and has kept in touch with all the players at Ibrox.""

Roach would not reveal a fee but it is thought Rangers have paid around pounds 300,000 to bring back the player they sold for pounds 1million to the London club 18 months ago.

Amazingly Hateley could go straight into the Rangers side for tomorrow's Old Firm showdown with Celtic at Parkhead which may decide the championship.

Boss Walter Smith has lost three strikers, Sebastian Rozental, Erik Bo Andersen and Gordon Durie to illness and injury to cripple his plans.

Hateley scored more than 100 goals for Rangers during his first spell at Ibrox and made a habit of netting in Old Firm derbies.

Knox added: "The idea behind it is quite straightforward - you know the extent of our injuries.

"Gordon Durie is out of hospital now but he's lost 9 lbs. We hope he doesn't need an op but we won't know for certain until Monday. He's been unable to eat anything as he's been on a drip.

"That put us in the position where we only had one recognised striker. So we have signed Mark until the end of the season and taken over his contract from QPR.

"We certainly hope it will be easier for Mark to fit straight into the team than it would be for a completely new arrival because he's familiar with the place, the games we play and the players.

"He's fit and he's been playing and at this time of the season it's hard to buy the standard of player we demand. They are there, but clubs are reluctant to let them leave at this stage.

"People may call this a panic buy but we are doing what we think is best for the club considering the players we are without.

"We need someone who can go in and do a job for us and we think Mark is the man. Panic? Not here. It might start panic elsewhere though!"

Rangers biggest injury concern is now over keeper Andy Goram. He has only an evens chance of playing in the Parkhead crunch.

Knox revealed: "Andy's had a belt on the ribs, a knock on the knee and bangs and bruises, but we'll have to wait and see how he is.

"With this type of injury it's a matter of withstanding the pain and there is nobody better at that than Andy Goram.

"As for Richard Gough, he trained today and should be OK. Hopefully David Robertson, who will train with the lads for the first time in the morning, will be ready too.""

Rangers midweek defeat has thrown the race wide open and Celtic stopper Alan Stubbs' nerves couldn't stand listening to the score on Wednesday night.

Instead he spent an agonising 90 minutes in a Glagow restaurant unable to touch his food - until he heard the full-time result from Ibrox.

Stubbs admitted: "I really thought we'd blown the championship by losing to Kilmarnock on Tuesday.

"I couldn't face an evening in the house on Wednesday knowing that Rangers were playing Dundee United. I honestly expected them to win about 3-0 after our result.

"I reckoned the best thing would be to go out for a quiet meal with a friend of mine who's absolutely Celtic daft.

"We just picked away at our food trying to keep our minds on other things until this big roar went up from the kitchen in the restaurant. Somebody came running to tell us that Dundee United were 2-0 up. From then on I was so nervous I left my meal until the final whistle."

Stubbs admitted he was amazed Rangers lost after Celtic were abysmal at Rugby Park the previous night.

"It was a huge bonus for us. I was sure that points would be dropped and there would be losts of twists and turns before the end of the season.

"I didn't think it would happen at Ibrox. But it did, and we're back at square one when we might have been eight behind. I wish I could explain Tuesday. If I could we'd be champions already!

Stubbs has never faced big Mark Hateley in his career, and admitted: "Obviously his strength is in the air.

"If he plays well he'll be a handful for us. It's up to the likes of me and Malky Mackay to cope." A few players have been labelled over the hill and come back to haunt their old teams. We can't afford to let that happen.""
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Weir, Stewart
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 15, 1997
Words:888
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