KILMARNOCK winger Chris Johnston insists Kris Boyd can make a mark on the Rugby Park side next season - and not just as a coach.
The hitman has been linked with switch back to his former side after his Rangers return went flat.
The Ibrox striker has netted just three league goals this term and has been dropped for Gers’ last two games by boss Stuart McCall.
Reports have suggested he could now be heading back to Ayrshire as Gary Locke’s assistant boss, just a year after saving Killie from relegation with a 22-goal haul.
Boyd admits he has been a “failure” at Ibrox this term but Johnston believes a move back to the club where he started his career could re-ignite his goalscoring form.
He told Press Association Sport: “Kris would definitely be welcomed back by the players.
“When Boydy was here as a player he was somebody we all looked up to.
“When you look at his career, he has done brilliantly. He saved us last season by scoring 22 goals with a team struggling at the wrong end of the table.
“Okay, it’s not worked out for him this season with Rangers but we would definitely welcome him back not only as a coach, but a player.
“Does he still have that ability to score goals in the Premiership? Definitely. You don’t just lose that from one year to the next.
“Sometimes a move just doesn’t work out for you but Kris enjoys it here at Killie. It’s local for him, he’s been here before and knows the lads.
“We’d be glad to see him return.”
Interim boss Locke claimed stories linking him with a move for Boyd were purely “speculation”.
But Johnston reckons he would be just as useful to the Rugby Park coaches’ room as he is around the penalty box.
He added: “Boydy expects 100 per cent every day in training. That’s the type of guy he is. If you slack off he will tell you.”
Before Locke can start thinking about hiring extra staff and beefing up his playing squad, he will have to sort out his own future first.
Allan Johnston’s former number two has lost just once in the two months since stepping up to lead the team on a caretaker basis.
Now he hopes to have a permanent deal agreed by the time Killie face Motherwell on Saturday.
Talks are on-going with new chairman Jim Mann but 20-year-old winger Johnston insists the players are fully behind his candidacy for the position.
“You can see from the performances the lads are putting in that they want the gaffer to get the job full-time,” said the Scotland youth cap.
“We went unbeaten for a few games and we have all been working hard to get him the job.
“When he came he said that the people who will decide if he gets the job or not is the players. He’s not got it yet but we want to do everything we can to help him.
“Everyone has got a lot of respect for him. When he was assistant manager, everybody could go and talk to him.
“You could speak about anything. If you weren’t playing, you could ask why.
“He’s that same way as manager, you can still speak to him about stuff in training or things off the park.”
Locke was speaking ahead of a Tesco Bank Football Festival at Rugby Park. Over 700 children from 16 schools are expected to be involved in this year’s programme across East Ayrshire.
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