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Football: GERS SET TO CALL IN MARCO; Frozen-out Negri's clean slate.

MARCO NEGRI will return to Ibrox next week and be given a clean slate to rebuild his Rangers career.

The Italian striker has not kicked a ball for his club since April 1998 when he threw a tantrum after being axed by former boss Walter Smith and has been in Italy recovering from a back knock.

Now chairman David Murray has revealed that Dutch coach Dick Advocaat is ready to offer the pounds 4million hitman one last chance.

Murray told me: "Dick will think about playing him if he's fit, there is no doubt about that.

"Our medical people have been over to Italy to check him out and they say he is ready to come back and rejoin the squad.

"He doesn't need another operation and it's now a matter of him proving his fitness and proving that he wants to play for Rangers.

"He'll be back next week and we can take things from there."

Negri was booted out of the first- team squad by Advocaat after failing to report back in time for the Dutchman's first pre-season training and was eventually loaned to Vicenza for six months of last season.

He returned to Glasgow at the start of this season when it was announced that peace had broken out but then almost immediately declared himself unfit.

Negri went under the knife for corrective surgery to a back injury and has spent most of the season back home in Italy at the same rehab clinic as the other forgotten man of Ibrox, Daniel Prodan.

It remains to be seen how committed he is to salvaging his professional career but Murray is adamant that Advocaat is willing to give him that chance.

The Dutchman has taken his side to within three points of qualification for phase two of the Champions League despite being without an out and out goalscorer.

If he is happy with Negri's attitude then the man who netted 33 goals in his first five months at Ibrox could make a sensational return to action.

Paul Gascoigne and Mark Hughes have been charged by the FA after appearing in Sir Alex Ferguson's testimonial while they were suspended.

Their clubs Middlesbrough and Southampton have also been charged.

An FA spokesman said yesterday: "The players and clubs have been charged with misconduct. Players are not allowed to appear in testimonials while they are suspended."

Gascoigne played for 70 minutes at Old Trafford last week and Hughes scored a spectacular goal after coming on as sub.

At the time former Rangers star Gazza was serving a two-match ban after being sent off against Chelsea for foul and abusive language.

A Middlesbrough spokes-man said: "This is hard to believe. The game raised a lot of money for charity."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Jackson, Keith
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 1999
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