By George Overhill

23rd Jan, 2022 | 7:10pm

Craig Levein does not believe John Souttar is injured amid Rangers speculation

Craig Levein says Rangers-bound John Souttar is not actually injured despite his manager claiming that was why he was left out of the latest squad.

The defender missed the 5-0 Hearts victory at Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup on Saturday with what Robbie Neilson said was an ankle injury, after Gers reportedly had a £300,000 offer to sign him this month rejected (BBC).

The Scotland international has already signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Ibrox when his contract runs out in the summer, and his former boss Levein hinted that speculation around his future kept him out of the squad.

The ex-Scotland manager told BBC Sportsound, via The Daily Record: “It was an ankle injury. That’s what I heard”.

Asked if he believed that news, he smiled and replied: “Probably not.”

Out of the firing line

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As we enter the final stretch of the January transfer window, negotiations and speculation surrounding where Souttar will play for the rest of this season will continue to ramp up.

The 25-year-old was booed by elements of the Tynecastle crowd in his first match following the announcement that he would be signing for the Light Blues, the Jambos 2-0 win over St Johnstone.

And while the tug of war between Glasgow and Edinburgh continues, player and coach may be hoping to avoid repeats of that wherever possible.

Neilson will be hoping that if he can just get to the end of the month with his key defender still in situ, the focus will move on as everyone will know that the move is no longer imminent.

Hopes at Ibrox will be the exact opposite, as the more negative reaction that Souttar receives from his own fans, the weaker negotiating position his current side will hold.

With Levein also believing that Hearts are holding out for more than double the fee that has been offered so far, anything that will drag that down will be in the interest of the Rangers hierarchy.

In other Rangers news, this Celtic favourite claims one Hoops defender is playing better than Souttar and Goldson.