Kilmarnock focus on Premiership return feelgood factor as Derek McInnes preaches patience in loan market

Strong season ticket sales, a winning mentality and a feelgood factor across the club. Derek McInnes is enjoying his summer with Kilmarnock.

But after leading the Rugby Park revival to the Championship title last season, there is an acceptance next season will be different in the Premiership.

It needs to be. McInnes has a strong player-base but is patiently preparing to supplement last season’s successful squad.

"It’s important to try to improve our squad, everyone will, even if you win a title,” McInnes said. “The players are giving me everything and I want as many in that dressing room to come with us.”

He has secured Zach Hemming’s return from Middlesbrough plus Lewis Mayo from Rangers but McInnes explained: “I don’t want to have too many loan players. The loan market can be important for clubs like us as it can bring you a level of player you maybe can’t afford.

“There are loads being offered to us, and we have to be really specific and smart to get exactly what we feel we need.”

The requirements will be different too. McInnes is enjoying a pre-season schedule preparing for the campaign ahead, back at work after almost a year out. His team also spent their first 12 months outside the top flight in 29 years and he is determined both will make the most of their returns.

“I feel at home here, I enjoy my job and I have loved being back working with players after the time away,” McInnes said. “I enjoyed winning the title. You have to. When you are out of the game and come back in, it makes you enjoy the good times more than in the past.

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes. (Picture: Michael Gillen)

“Experience tells you there will be disappointments and you want to keep them to a minimum.

“I want us to embrace being back in the top flight and have confidence that we can win games.”

Last season’s expectation might need tempered slightly, but not at the expense of ambition in Ayrshire. With McInnes biding his time in the transfer market the club is being backed from the stands, a surge of support he has helped cultivate.

“We have a feelgood factor from the fans after last year and we have sold a lot of season tickets which is great. We have a connection with the supporters but we know if we don’t win games that could go,” McInnes added.

Kyle Lafferty will be back in the Premiership with Kilmarnock. (Picture: Michael Gillen)

But it will be different from last season, remember.

“For most newly promoted teams the team spirit we had last season gets tested as you need to deal with losing more games than last season.

“They were under pressure to win every game last year and that’s not something Kilmarnock have been used to recently.

“From my point of view we have got to try to make sure regardless of who we play, home or away, whether we are favourites or underdogs we have to try to make sure we find ways to win and be competitive.

“I know what it takes to win games in the Premiership and I believe we can be good enough to approach it with confidence.

“We have had one year out of 29 in the Championship, we have been a Premiership club a long time and have to carry ourselves as one.”

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