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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 16:53 GMT
McLeish eager to keep skipper
Rangers captain Barry Ferguson
Ferguson's contract expires in 2005
Rangers manager Alex McLeish has made it clear he wants in-form skipper Barry Ferguson to stay on the club beyond his current contract, which expires in 2005.

The highly-rated midfielder has recently revealed that he has no intention of leaving the Ibrox club, despite being linked with top English clubs in the past.

Ferguson has battled through the pain barrier to become Rangers' top performer this season despite being plagued by a pelvic injury earlier in the campaign.

And he has made himself an even more attractive prospect by finding the back of the net 16 times this term.

McLeish was very pleased to hear that Ferguson has no plans to move on.

"It's good news for us if Barry wants to stay here and we would be delighted to keep our captain here as long as possible," said McLeish.

"He's grown into the role of captaincy and he's just turned 25 - to be a Rangers captain and to have done that so well speaks volumes about the guy's mental toughness.

"If it's anything to do with me then, of course, I'd love him to extend his contract.

"The experience he has gained thus far, in terms of Europe and playing for Scotland, has given him belief and confidence.

"He's been around a long time and when you think who he has competed against in the past few years, like Monaco and Parma in the Champions League, he's never looked second-best."

Ferguson, who was named the Bank of Scotland Player of the Month for January, has warned that his best form is yet to come.

"I've been happy with the way things have been going and I haven't missed a game this season, which is pleasing," said Ferguson.

"You can always improve no matter what age you are. I've just turned 25 but, even if you're 30, you're still going to try to improve yourself.

"I've been happy with my form but I know that I can still improve and I'm enjoying this season."

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