Ally McCoist admits Javi Guerra interest and Steven Whittaker out for six weeks

Whittaker out for six weeks as McCoist admits he'd love to bring Guerra to Rangers

Rangers suffered another significant injury setback as Steven Whittaker underwent a hernia operation and was ruled out for a minimum of six weeks.

The adaptable full-back, who last played against St Mirren on Christmas Eve, travelled to Manchester on Tuesday in the company of club doctor Paul Jackson to have his groin injury assessed by a specialist.

He was told surgery was required and underwent the operation immediately.

Hernia operation: Steven Whittaker

Hernia operation: Steven Whittaker

While that was not entirely unexpected, it is a further blow to Ibrox boss Ally McCoist after striker Kyle Lafferty was ruled out until the end of next month with a hamstring tear.

That is the earliest that Whittaker can hope to be back in action, meaning he will miss SPL meetings with St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Hibs, Dunfermline, Kilmarnock and, possibly, Inverness Caley Thistle.

He will also sit out the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round tie with Dundee United on February 5.

Kirk Broadfoot, also struggling for fitness recently, was due to undergo a scan on a knee problem.

The situation means it is likely that Arsenal loanee Kyle Bartley will have to continue at right-back after operating there in the Ibrox club’s last two outings.

McCoist has, meanwhile, expressed a desire to sort out new deals for Sone Aluko and Sasa Papac as soon as possible.

Former Aberdeen winger Aluko has impressed since joining Rangers as a free agent last month in a deal until the end of the season. Rangers hold a two-year option on the Nigerian international and McCoist is keen for an agreement to be reached with the player’s representatives.

The Ibrox manager also hopes to persuade Papac to extend his stay in Glasgow. The left-back is in the final six months of his contract, with reports in Bosnia last week suggesting he could seek a return to his homeland this summer.

‘Outwith the current climate that we are in, I would have to say that both Sasa Papac and Sone Aluko deserve new contracts,’ McCoist told Rangers Monthly.

Sign him up: McCoist has made noises about keeping Aluko at Ibrox

Sign him up: McCoist has made noises about keeping Aluko at Ibrox

‘Of that there is no doubt. Sone has been a breath of fresh air. Sasa has had a couple of illness periods but he is so solid.

‘So I would say that Sone and Sasa are two players we are keen to hold on to.’

McCoist has also admitted he could be interested in signing Spanish striker Javi Guerra if Nikica Jelavic exits this month.

Hotshot: Guerra

Hotshot: Guerra

The 29-year-old, rated at around 2million, has scored 34 goals in 55 appearances for second division side Real Valladolid and has been watched by the Ibrox club. His purchase would only become possible if Rangers rake in a sizeable fee for Jelavic.

Asked if he would be interested in signing Guerra, McCoist said: ‘Quite possibly. He is a very good player and, if the opportunity arose, yes.’

Rangers, meanwhile, have joined Old Firm rivals Celtic in tracking Fleetwood Town hotshot Jamie Vardy.

The Conference striker has scored 18 goals in 21 appearances and attracted a 750,000 bid from local rivals Blackpool after scoring against the Championship side in the weekend FA Cup loss.

Rangers scout John Brown travelled south to cast his eye over the forward in the game with Barrow.