MICHAEL Ngoo is fired up for Kilmarnock’s Scottish Premiership clash against Dundee United tonight after scoring a second-team hat-trick in midweek – but he refuses to view his bid for a place in the side as a fight with team-mates.
Ngoo has made only two starts for Kilmarnock since picking up a minor injury after his winning debut against Ross County on 16 August.
Josh Magennis has established himself up front, with the likes of Lee Miller and Robbie Muirhead also vying for a place, and Rory McKenzie returning from injury ahead of tonight’s game. Ngoo will focus on helping the team out when he can rather than stressing about getting in ahead of team-mates.
After scoring three in a development league match against former club Hearts, he said: “I trust my ability and I know that, when I get an opportunity, I can take it. It does boost your confidence getting a hat-trick. It got my fitness up too. I’m not really bothered about competition, I’m bothered about getting a job done for the team.
“Other people might see it as competition, and I have to do better than my opponent, but it takes your mind away from doing the right thing, which is playing well, scoring goals and helping the team.”
Ngoo stated his ambition was to win the Premiership when he first joined the club, a target that raised more than a few eyebrows. But his side have exceeded other people’s expectations, sitting level on 14 points with Celtic after eight games. They can move third if they beat leaders United.
“Personally I didn’t feel I was being ambitious,” he said. “Obviously people will say, ‘He’s being a bit ambitious’. But we have played many teams this season but not one has actually fazed me. I still think we can do well if we stick together and work hard as a team.”
Kilmarnock will need to continue their improvement if they are to turn around recent results against United – they have lost the past five games between the teams, conceding 16 goals in the process. Manager Allan Johnston said: “They are a good team. They have been scoring a lot of goals this year as well. They are really fast on the counter so we just have to make sure, when we’ve got the ball and we’re attacking, that we don’t get caught with the sucker-punch. There is nothing to be scared of.”
United manager Jackie McNamara has warned the league leaders they will face equally confident opponents.
“It will be a very tough game. Kilmarnock have been doing well this season and Allan will have his players ready for this match. They had a great result against Partick Thistle in their last game so their confidence will be high. We have seen them play and they have some good young players, like Craig Slater and Chris Johnston, who’ve been doing well for them. They gained some good experience last season.
“We’re under no illusions but we will be ready for it like any other game we go into.”
McNamara will not be upset if they have to work hard for a scrappy win. “We are showing we are able to grind out wins as well, which is important,” he said.