Shiels ‘confident’ of finalising Peter Murphy deal

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Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels is confident of signing freed Carlisle defender Peter Murphy. The 32-year-old is leaving Brunton Park after 12 years and Shiels is close to a deal.

The Irishman, who is also aiming to sign goalkeeper Craig Samson from today’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League opponents St Mirren, said: “We have Peter Murphy from Carlisle. I am confident we can cross the line with that one.

He is an experienced left centre-back who has over 400 games for Carlisle behind him. He is a top player. He fits our needs and he has the quality as well.”

If he completes his deal, Murphy will be able to help nurture 19-year-old centre-back Lee Ashcroft, who made his debut for Killie in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Dundee.

The teenager followed that by signing a new three-year contract and then scored on his first start on Wednesday in the 3-1 defeat by Hibernian. Ashcroft said: “I was absolutely delighted at getting offered my new contract and to get my first start the other night was absolutely amazing. It was the best experience of my life.

“I was obviously a bit gutted about the result. When I got my goal to make it 1-1 I thought we had a chance to go on and win it. To lose the game so late was a bit disappointing but we will learn from the mistakes.”

Meanwhile, St Mirren manager Danny Lennon insists any player who leaves Paisley this summer will always be remembered by the fans. Lennon’s Scottish Communities League Cup-winning squad will be together for the final time when they take on Kilmarnock.

Lennon this week told striker Sam Parkin and midfielder Graham Carey they would not be offered new deals and he advised four contracted players to find new clubs. Loan players Paul Dummett, Conor Newton and Esmael Goncalves are due to return to their parent clubs, while Samson has rejected an offer amid interest from Motherwell and Kilmarnock and Paul McGowan is keen to go to England.

Lennon said: “This is a difficult stage of the season and it’s inevitable that players that you want to stay are going to go and arguably go on to better things, and there are players that want to stay but have to go.

“But the players we have had here, it’s a remarkable achievement what they have done. Their season is going to be remembered for winning the League Cup for the first time in the club’s history and every one of them that goes out the door will go out with heads held high. They will be remembered at this club for the rest of their days.”