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GERS HAVE BAD THERN; Swede will miss out on title run-in.

Rangers' hopes of a league and cup double have suffered a hammer blow with news that Jonas Thern could miss the rest of the season.

The Ibrox club - who have denied interest in a pounds 3million move for Georgian striker Archil Arveladze - had hoped that the hamstring injury which forced Thern to limp off at Tynecastle last week would clear in time for the clash with Kilmarnock.

But the 29-year-old Swede has discovered the muscle is torn and is now struggling badly.

He is certain to be sidelined at Ibrox on Saturday and is not expected to be ready for the final league game against Dundee United at Tannadice a week later.

Thern has not yet given up hope of making a recovery but it would be a surprise if he is fit for the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.

The former Roma star has been a massive influence in Rangers' midfield since returning to full fitness in February.

Since then he has scored five goals and formed an impressive partnership with Jorg Albertz as Walter Smith's side have battled to keep their season alive.

Smith has not hidden his belief that Thern's return to form has been a key factor in his side's resurgence.

The Rangers manager now faces a major headache in selecting a replacement as his final season reaches its climax.

Meanwhile, reports from Holland linking Rangers with NAC Breda striker Arveladze appear to be off the mark.

The Daily Record can reveal that the 25-year-old's Belgian-based agent contacted us last week claiming to be on the verge of a deal with David Murray.

He said new coach Dick Advocaat wanted Arveladze - brother of Ajax top scorer Shota - at Ibrox next season.

But Murray issued a categorical denial and last night NAC president John Peek insisted fresh claims of an Ibrox enquiry are off the mark.

He said: "I've heard the rumours but there has been no contact with Advocaat or with Rangers.

"I'm the only one at NAC who deals with transfers and I can tell you, 100 per cent, that nothing has been discussed.

"If it is true that Rangers want him, it is unofficial.

"Nothing in football is impossible but he is under contract with us for two years and we would be very pleased for him to stay."

Rangers' Italian defender Sergio Porrini - missing since the end of March - could be back in Smith's plans for Kilmarnock's visit.

Porrini played yesterday against Hibs reserves at Easter Road, where Finn Jonatan Johansson hit a double for Rangers in a 3-1 victory.

Rangers' skipper Richard Gough is set to be hammered by the SFA - when he's back in America.

Gough landed himself in potential trouble when he claimed Aberdeen "only play four times a season" after he was told they had lost 2-1 at Kilmarnock.

The SFA revealed last night they take a dim view of such remarks and they are certain to be discussed at the next General Purposes Committee meeting.

That won't be held until next season and by then Gough will be playing for San Jose Clash in the MLS.

An SFA spokesman said: "We read the newspapers and look at the comments people make. I'd guess these comments would be noted."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Jackson, : Keith
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 30, 1998
Words:540
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