Rangers manager Ally McCoist is hopeful Kyle Bartley will be back in action in four weeks.
The on-loan Arsenal defender underwent a successful hernia operation on Tuesday after being forced out of last month's 2-0 win at Inverness on his second competitive debut. Director of football Gordon Smith feared the centre-half would be sidelined for six weeks but McCoist is slightly more optimistic about the centre-half's recovery.
However, news of his lay-off is a setback for the Scottish champions as they prepare to face Celtic in the opening Old Firm derby of the season on September 18. McCoist told www.rangers.co.uk: "It's a big disappointment for Kyle himself that he's out for a bit longer but I had a good chat with him after his operation and he's upbeat."
He added: "He was obviously in a little bit of discomfort and a little bit of pain but he still managed to ask me if there was any possibility we could put the Celtic game back. I thought that was wonderful and it just sums big Kyle up. He doesn't want to miss any training or any games. I told him I'd ask but I didn't hold much hope it would happen for him.
"With the attitude he has and what he gives us, being without him is a big miss for ourselves but we won't rush him back. When you've someone who is as eager to be part of the team as his is, in many cases that's half the battle.
"I'd hope we'd have him back in around four weeks or so but we'll take as long as he needs to make sure he is fit again."
Meanwhile, McCoist could be willing to sanction a loan move to the Irn-Bru First Division for Kyle Hutton and John Fleck after their move to Sheffield United fell through.
The youngsters thought they had sealed a season-long switch to Bramall Lane late on transfer deadline day but the pair were not registered with the English Football League in time.
Rangers' website confirmed: "As it is, both clubs have been told by ruling bodies the transfers can't take place until the next registration period in January because it would involve moving from one country to another.
"There is no such restriction on any player leaving to go to a lower league club within Scotland on an emergency loan. As such, manager Ally McCoist is open to the duo spending time in the First Division and will consider any such proposals which come his way."
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