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New Rangers boss to make former Irish U21 captain his first signing

Rangers have had a £200,000 bid for the Wigan defender accepted by the Latics.

Kiernan is a former Ireland Under 21 captain.
Kiernan is a former Ireland Under 21 captain.
Image: Cathal Noonan

NEW RANGERS MANAGER Mark Warburton is on the verge of making Rob Kiernan his first signing of the summer after having a £200,000 bid for the Wigan defender accepted by the Latics.

The former Republic of Ireland Under 21 captain was at Watford when Warburton was their youth coach and was also at Brentford on loan from Wigan in 2012 during Warburton’s time as the Bees’ sporting director.

Warburton was appointed Gers boss on a three-year deal on Monday but with 11 of last season’s squad leaving and just 39 days to the new season, he faces a mammoth task to turn the Ibrox club around. Chairman Dave King has told Warburton he must clinch promotion at the first attempt.

Left with just nine senior professionals, it’s expected to be a busy summer at Ibrox. Just two days into his reign, Warburton has wasted little time getting down to work rebuilding the squad.

Kiernan, who has 14 caps for the Republic of Ireland U21 side, made 18 appearances for Wigan last year before being sent on loan to Birmingham for the last three months of the campaign.

He was expected to make a permanent move to St Andrews but reports say Birmingham backed out of a move for the 24-year-old following problems with his medical. The player’s camp deny these claims and say it was Kiernan who backed out of the deal after learning that Warburton wanted to take him to Ibrox.

Warburton is currently in the Czech Republic watching the European Under 21 Championships and told Record Sport he expects Kiernan to be a success in Glasgow.

“Rob is exactly the kind of player I want to attract. Hopefully he’ll be in Glasgow on Monday to go through the medical and finalise the deal.

“For a defender, he’s technically excellent and at 6ft 3in has a real athletic presence. He has proved his credentials in the English Championship but most importantly is still young enough to develop and to be improved.

“That’s exactly the kind of player we are looking to bring to Ibrox because what we want to build here is a team for the future.”

Danny Wilson, another ex-Ibrox youth product, is also understood to be considering a return to Gers after leaving Hearts. Warburton wants Kiernan and Wilson to form the defensive heart of a new looking starting XI.

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Donal Lucey

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