Rangers 'baffled' as Raith Rovers claim rule breach over Ryan Hardie return

Rangers claim Raith Rovers' questioning of Ryan Hardie's return from Scotland under-19 duty ahead of their clash on Saturday is "baffling."

The Ibrox club also claim their rivals have "besmirched the honour" of assistant manager David Weir in doing so and are seeking an apology.

The Kirkcaldy club released a statement on Thursday asking if the Scottish FA's compliance officer agreed with them that the Light Blues, through Weir, "have breached SFA articles and rules by requesting and securing the early release" of 18-year-old forward Hardie from Scot Gemmill's squad.

The U21s are in Bulgaria for a friendly double-header -- the first game on Wednesday ending in a 1-1 draw with the second taking place on Friday night.

It was reported that Rovers waived the opportunity to do the same with Craig Wighton, who is on loan from Dundee.

A statement on Rangers' official website read: "Rangers insists there are no grounds for Raith Rovers' allegation that a rule breach may have been committed by the club.

"Rangers also consider that Raith Rovers' spurious claim could have besmirched the honour of assistant manager David Weir by making specific reference to him.

"Neither Rangers nor David Weir acted wrongly in requesting the return from U19 Scotland duty of Ryan Hardie ahead of tomorrow's Ladbrokes Championship match against Raith Rovers.

"This was done with the approval of the SFA, within the rules and in the full knowledge that Raith Rovers would be offered the same opportunity to bring Craig Wighton, their loan player from Dundee, home.

"They declined but then issued a statement alleging Rangers has somehow broken the rules. This action is baffling.

"Rangers, as many other clubs have done in the past, acted within the rules and the very thought that David Weir, who served his country with great distinction winning 69 caps, might have been trying to undermine an international side is preposterous.

"Rangers has also written directly to Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale seeking to understand his club's motive behind such vexatious action and an apology to David is the very least Raith Rovers should be offering."