Kris Boyd hopes he can catch the eye of Gordon Strachan and resurrect his Scotland career if he impresses for Kilmarnock between now and the end of the season.
The striker is back at his former club and aiming to reclaim the form that saw him become the Clydesdale Bank Premier League’s record goalscorer while at Rangers. He has not featured for the national team since Craig Levein’s side stumbled to a last-gasp 2-1 win over Liechtenstein in September 2010. But Boyd, 29, insists he still has plenty to offer once he rediscovers his form at domestic level.
He said: “I need to get back playing here at Kilmarnock and scoring goals. Gordon has said in the last couple of days that he wants to mix experience with youth. Hopefully, I’m in that age group between 28 and 32 and I am experienced enough.
“I’ve tasted it. I’ve played with Scotland on numerous occasions and scored goals at that level. I know I can do it. It’s a matter of getting myself fit again. You don’t lose anything you’ve got ability-wise, it’s just working on the fitness. Between now and the end of the season, hopefully I can get the games and start scoring goals regularly again.”
Boyd was signed by Strachan at Middlesbrough and has no doubts about the Scotland manager’s ability to rebuild the national team – monumental as that task may seem.
The World Cup qualifying campaign was all but over when he replaced Levein at the helm and defeats to Wales and Serbia have since sealed the Scots’ fate. Boyd added: “He’s a great guy. He brings an enthusiasm that the whole Scottish game needs at this moment. This campaign is finished but he will have us in good shape going forward.
“It’s down to the players. I include myself because I’ve been part of the Scotland set-up in the past and it’s us who are going on to the pitch and not getting the results. You can only change managers so often. At the end of the day, it lies with the players.”
Kilmarnock are without the suspended Paul Heffernan for today’s clash at Ross County, while Cillian Sheridan is doubtful. Lack of options up front could see Boyd handed his first start. He said: “I feel okay but it’s up to the manager what team he selects. I’ve not played a lot of football in the last year. If I play I will give it my all. I’ve trained well the last couple of weeks but if it means I have to wait until Wednesday to get a start, then so be it. I feel as though I’m ready, but the manager has decisions to make.”
The trip to Dingwall will be a first for the forward. He said: “It’s a place I’ve never been. They were in the First Division when I played here the last time. They’ve done fantastically well this season and they’ve caused a lot of teams problems.
“When you look at Celtic a couple of weeks ago, they struggled to cope with their work-rate. We’ve got a game-plan going into the game and, hopefully, we can emphasise our points against them and get the three points we need.”
Ross County winger Ivan Sproule has been one of the reasons the Dingwall side have pushed up the table, finding the net regularly and turning provider on several occasions since his January move from Hibs. However, Sproule said last night he thought the standard of play in the SPL had dropped since his first spell in Scotland.
The Northern Irishman, 32, said: “For me, who has been about the SPL for quite a while and been down in England, Scottish football and the SPL is not as strong as it used to be. What happened with Rangers has made the league so tight and so competitive. I still think there are lots of good players in the SPL though. I’m not painting a doom and gloom picture of it; it’s a level playing field now.”