Steve Clarke: Betfred Cup opener ‘has come too soon’

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Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke admits his side’s season opener against St Mirren has come too quickly for his liking.

Killie will be without Kris Boyd for tonight’s Betfred Cup game at Rugby Park as the striker catches up on fitness following a minor injury.

Steve Clarke feels the Betfred Cup opener has come too quickly for his side. Picture: SNS Group

Steve Clarke feels the Betfred Cup opener has come too quickly for his side. Picture: SNS Group

Stephen O’Donnell, Iain Wilson and Greg Taylor will also sit out the game after being handed extra time off following international duty and Clarke admits his side will not be up to speed this evening.

“It’s a competition that comes around a little bit quickly,” he said. “We have had to tailor the training a little bit this week.

“We will play the game with fatigue in our legs, no doubt, because it’s pre-season. I’m sure St Mirren will be the same. The biggest thing out the game is that we get a good physical workout with no injuries. It’s also important to try to win the game because we want to go as far as we can in the competition.”

St Mirren boss Alan Stubbs insists he is not using the game as a yardstick for how his newly-promoted side will fare on their top-flight return. Having brought in seven new faces – with 15 heading for the Paisley exit door – Stubbs also admits it will be some time yet before his side are fully up to speed.

“I think it’s far too early to see this as a marker for where we are at right now,” said Stubbs, who faces a dilemma over who to start in goal after signing Aberdeen’s Danny Rogers on loan to challenge last term’s number one Craig Samson.

“I know Steve [Clarke] has said the same. We have just got to embrace the competition and do what we need to do to come through the group.

“It’s a great game to start. 
Kilmarnock had a fantastic season last year after 
Steve came in. He really took the club to new heights with them finishing in the top six.

“I’m sure he will be looking to carry on in the same vein this season and in terms of our group, it certainly looks like our toughest game.”