The remarkable rise in the stock of Josh Magennis has been one of the great stories of the season as he has become the talisman of Kilmarnock’s recovery and played a key role for Northern Ireland in their historic qualification for Euro 2016.
It was been a remarkable phase for Magennis, who has scored five goals in Kilmarnock’s last six matches and was also on the scoresheet on that joyous night in Belfast when Michael O’Neill’s side defeated Greece 3-1 to book their place in France next summer.
Traditionally, Kris Boyd has never been best pleased about sitting on the substitute’s bench but he has no qualms about playing second fiddle right now. Indeed, he is gushing in his admiration of his Kilmarnock team-mate.
Boyd said: “Josh has to praise himself. The turnaround in the last few months has been unbelievable. He is a pest. He is always asking questions. He always wants to know things, but you don’t mind it when it’s in a good way. Josh wants to improve, he wants to get better and you need to take your hat off to him. From where he’s been to what he is doing now, going to the Euros next summer, it’s unbelievable.
“It’s something you dream of and it’s happened for him. The hard work he has put in behind the scenes has paid off.
“I’m not annoyed I’m not playing. I’ve been over the course and distance before. When you are sitting waiting for a chance and somebody on the pitch isn’t doing it, it’s different. But Josh has been excellent, he’s done really well and is one of the biggest reasons why the season has turned around in recent weeks. ”
Boyd, now in this third spell at Rugby Park, is also thrilled that Gary Locke and his coaching staff survived a tough start to the season when there were calls for him to be the first managerial casualty of the campaign.
Now Kilmarnock are knocking at the door of the top six. The 32-year-old striker said: “Credit to the board because it would have been pretty easy to get rid of him as everyone else started firing managers round about us.
“But they stood by him and you can see the hard work and effort that is being put in on the training field. It’s hard sometimes when you take in so many new bodies at the start of the season and they have to gel straight away. We always knew we had a squad that could mount a challenge towards the top six and we are getting there.
“We are in a position to challenge now and that hard work is a credit to the manager and coaching staff. The big thing has been a settled team. The manager has been able to work with a starting XI and we’ve had results off the back of it.
“It would have been easy for the boys to separate and go our own way when results weren’t coming. But we stayed together, the players and coaching staff, and the hardcore set of fans.
Boyd, meanwhile, believes his old Rangers strike partner, Kenny Miller, is worthy of another year’s contract at Ibrox, which, he believes, would give him one last tilt at the top flight.
He said: “I think he deserves it. I’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of games with Kenny and train alongside him thousands of times. He will train his hardest every single day. Rangers have a lot of young kids in their ranks right now and Kenny will pull them in the right direction. He will show them what it takes to be a Premiership striker.”