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Michael Beale revealed he has spoken to at least two players who are keen to come to Rangers “sooner rather than later”.

The Gers boss has had more time to focus on new recruits following the 2-2 draw with Celtic on Monday, which kept the Hoops nine points clear of the Light Blues at the top of the cinch Premiership.

Ahead of the trip to Dundee United on Sunday, Beale, named Scottish Premiership manager of the month for December 2022, updated his recruitment plans.

“We have spoken to two or three players,” said the former QPR boss, who confirmed John Souttar has returned to training along with Ianis Hagi, while fellow long-term injured team-mate Tom Lawrence has visited a specialist about his ankle problem which is causing discomfort.

“Our phone has not stopped. There is a lot of players interested in coming here. I have to make sure they are the right ones.

“I’m a little bit fussy. It’s alright doing something on Zoom, I want to sit in front of a player and look in his eyes.

“My schedule has been pretty packed out up until the game on Monday. This week has been spent meeting people face to face and getting a feel for them, telling them exactly what I want, not the other way round. What I am expecting from them.

“When I am recruiting I am recruiting for specific roles.

“We obviously have the game on Sunday, then a free week into the semi-final with Aberdeen, but in between it gives me more time to do things.

“The negotiation part then takes place. I’m not so much involved in that, that is with the agents and football clubs involved.

“I would say that the two or three I’ve spoken to are very keen to come and sooner rather than later,  the same on our side. So let’s see.

“There won’t be anyone in before this weekend.”

Former Derby midfielder Lawrence has been out since a 4-0 win over Ross County in August and it was hoped he would return at the end of the month.

However, Beale said: “Tom was away seeing a specialist again yesterday, just to get some idea of what comes next. He has had a little bit of discomfort.

“I know we said towards the end of this month (he would be back) but that might be in jeopardy. It is not definitely in jeopardy.

“There is no good or bad news, we just need to get an update.”