Kenny Miller backs Lee McCulloch to lead Kilmarnock

The pair are old team-mates from their time together at Rangers. Picture: SNS

The pair are old team-mates from their time together at Rangers. Picture: SNS

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Kenny Miller knows former Rangers team-mate Lee McCulloch will have been prepared by his coaching spell at Kilmarnock as he gets set for a high-profile management debut.

McCulloch has been thrust into the hot seat for the William Hill Scottish Cup clash at Ibrox following the departure of Gary Locke.

The 37-year-old has leadership experience through captaining Rangers through some difficult years off the park, but Miller believes the recent months at Rugby Park will be invaluable.

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Miller said: “The club went through harsh spells and he would always say he would concentrate on the football because he was a player.

“I think the last six or seven months will definitely have given him an insight into how a club runs, being on the other side of the fence.

“As an assistant manager you are going to be privy to pretty much every conversation the manager has with the club, so he will have a far greater understanding of what’s required now.

“I can only speak about Lee as a player. I always knew he wanted to move into that side of it, probably not as quickly as he has to now to be honest.

“It’s a tough position to be put into, when you’re assistant manager of a football club and the manager leaves and you’re asked to take over.

“It’s not ideal circumstances for him to take over, but I’m sure he will step up to the plate and deal with it. These opportunities to manage in the Premiership don’t arise every day.”

Kris Boyd and Steven Smith also return to Ibrox months after ending their second spells as Rangers players, which were less successful than their first.

“As soon as the draw was made, we said it would be good to see the lads coming back and pitting our wits against them,” Miller said. “Obviously now Lee has stepped up so we wish him all the best, after this game.

“I hope he gets a good reception, I think he deserves it, as do the players who are coming back as well.

“They have been fantastic servants to the club. They have had moments at the club that will always be remembered.

“Lee was the captain of the club for a long time and played in a really successful team and had some great nights and European nights. I’m sure the fans will recognise that and give them a good reception.”

Boyd only scored three league goals last season for Rangers and has netted three in all competitions this term. But he has more than 250 career goals to his name and Miller knows to write off his former strike partner would be foolish.

“We give every team that comes and the players within the teams the respect they deserve,” he said.

“Boydy is a fantastic player, a great player for this club. He’s a fantastic goalscorer whereever he has been.

“If selected we will pay him the respect we pay the rest of them. They have some good players, they have areas we can exploit and areas we are going to have to watch. But that’s what we work on day in, day out and I’m sure we will be prepared.”

Rangers were beaten 3-1 at home to St Johnstone in the League Cup, but Miller believes they can go all the way in this tournament.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t win it,” the 36-year-old said. “We are still in the competition, we have a home tie. Any tie we will be looking to win.

“Promotion is the priority, but when you enter a competition with Rangers you are looking to win it. That’s not any different because we are in the league below.”

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