Stephen O’Donnell sure Killie will try and rile Morelos

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke may have cautioned his players not to become involved with Rangers’ tempestuous striker Alfredo Morelos when the clubs meet at Rugby Park tonight, but full-back Stephen O’Donnell has other ideas, writes Ewing ?Grahame.

Kilmarnock full-back Stephen O'Donnell

Clarke is concerned that his defenders may collect cautions, or worse, if they become sucked into a physical battle with the Colombian, pictured left.

O’Donnelll, though, says they would be falling down on the job if they didn’t attempt to rile Morelos.

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Like every other Premiership club, Kilmarnock are aware of how easy it can be to light his blue touchpaper and they will attempt to do just that. “You see some of the stuff that happens and there are always wee niggly bits in games,” said O’Donnell. “He seems to be involved in more of them than most but he also scores more goals than most.

“It’s all about how referees manage games and, if the ref is fair to both sides, I couldn’t care less. It doesn’t make a 

“I’m not a huge fan of the wee nasty bits you can get in games. One of my best mates – I won’t say who – nearly ripped my arm off last season. I had cuts all over it, but that’s football for you. I don’t do it too much but sometimes you get a wee bit of red mist and I’ve been known to have that myself. You can’t judge people too much.

“Morelos has obviously been under scrutiny with the stuff in the Celtic game, but he’s a top player. It’s not up to me or our gaffer to manage Alfredo Morelos, it’s up to Steven Gerrard. I’m sure our centre-backs will maybe try to 
provoke him.”

O’Donnell, pictured right, admits that he overplayed the extent of contact when Motherwell’s Curtis Main swung at his face in Kilmarnock’s 1-0 win at Fir Par on 26 December to increase the possibility of referee Steven McLean dismissing the striker, which he duly did.

“You saw what happened with me and Main,” he said. “I maybe went down a bit theatrically but he had tried to crack me right in the face and missed. Then he came in lightly and I made sure he was going off because he shouldn’t have done what he did in the first place.

“If that happens, I will be prepared to stand my ground if I need to. But that’s just football; you come up against it every week. This game is no different.”

Kilmarnock can move ahead of second-placed Rangers with victory tonight and, should Celtic fail to defeat 
St Mirren, they will return to the top of the table.

O’Donnell said: “I think the next month will really shape our season. We’ll see whether there is genuine optimism and a real opportunity to achieve something great, whether that is in a cup or the league.”