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By ESPN Staff

Rangers sign Whittaker from Hibs for £2m

Rangers have signed Steven Whittaker from Hibernian for £2million but will be prevented from handing him an immediate debut.

The 23-year-old signed a five-year contract and successfully underwent a medical today.

Whittaker, who is uncapped at senior level by Scotland, is primarily a right-back but can also operate in midfield.

He becomes Rangers' ninth summer signing and the deal takes the club's close-season spending above £7million.

It was initially thought that Whittaker would make his first Rangers appearance on Saturday, in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match at Inverness which launches the new campaign.

However a one-match suspension carried over from last season alerted Rangers to the fact he is ineligible.

Instead, he could feature for the first time in the August 11 home match against St Mirren.

Whittaker's arrival comes the day after regular right-back Alan Hutton was sent off on Champions League duty against FK Zeta.

Whittaker will be unable to play in next Tuesday's second leg of the second qualifying round tie, having been bought after the UEFA-set deadline for signings.

He could feature in the third round of qualifying though, providing Rangers convert their 2-0 advantage from the first leg into overall victory against Zeta.

Rangers manager Walter Smith indicated his admiration for Whittaker during the final weeks of his spell as Scotland boss.

He called the defender into his squad for the trip to Ukraine last October, but Whittaker played no part in the Euro 2008 qualifier.

The new recruit joins former Hibernian colleagues Kevin Thomson and Ian Murray at Ibrox.

Thomson was a £2million signing in January, while Murray moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow in summer 2005.

Rangers chairman Sir David Murray has pledged to take the club's spending on players above £10million by the time the transfer window closes on August 31.

Former Osasuna defender Carlos Cuellar was a £2.5million signing, Lee McCulloch joined from Wigan for £2.25million and DaMarcus Beasley arrived in a £700,000 deal from PSV Eindhoven.

Rangers' other signings have come in at little or no expense, with Kirk Broadfoot, Alan Gow, Jean-Claude Darcheville, Roy Carroll and Graeme Smith bolstering the strength in depth of Smith's squad.

Lens striker Daniel Cousin has emerged as a target and could become the 10th player to join, while Rangers have a long-held interest in Kilmarnock's Steven Naismith but have been unwilling to meet the £2million asking price.

Whittaker had been linked with Blackburn and Middlesbrough recently, but a move to Rangers had always appeared his most likely next step.