Rangers have turned their attention to beating Celtic to the signing of Preston North End defender Ben Davies, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

The Hoops have been keeping tabs on the 25-year-old contract rebel along with Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie as they look to bring in a new centre-back this month.

Ibrox sources have told Football Insider that Rangers have now joined the race for Davies as they look to reinforce their own back line.

Rangers are looking at a number of different transfer formulas, including a permanent deal this month, a pre-contract agreement and a summer signing.

Davies is out of contract at Preston at the end of the season and has resisted attempts from the club to secure him to an extension.

It is understood the Championship club have verbally offered the centre-back a new and improved long-term deal.

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Rangers are assessing a possible defender reshuffle despite their outstanding campaign that gives them a great chance of ending their 10-year title drought.

Steven Gerrard’s side are planning to green light the loan exit of George Edmundson this month to an English Football League team.

Another of the Scottish Premiership leaders’ four senior centre-backs – Leon Balogun – is out of contract at the end of the season.

Davies is free to speak to foreign clubs regarding a pre-contract agreement and Rangers and Celtic are keen to take advantage of cross-border rules.

Preston will consider bids in the region of £5million this month rather than lose him for nothing in the summer.

Football Insider first revealed in August that Celtic were considering signing Davies as a potential replacement for Kristoffer Ajer.

Davies has started 14 of Preston’s league matches this season, and only missed out when he was absent for six weeks with a hamstring injury in the autumn.

In other news, a Rangers big name is plotting his exit within the next months, his close pal has told Football Insider.