Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes still expects Kilmarnock to be challenging for European qualification this season, despite their underwhelming start to the campaign.
The Dons head to Ayrshire today to take on Angelo Alessio’s side at Rugby Park – a venue where McInnes has never tasted defeat during his time in charge of the Reds.
Killie, under Steve Clarke, pipped Aberdeen for third place last term but have struggled under new manager Angelo Alessio, having suffered an embarrassing Europa League exit to Welsh part-timers Connah’s Quay Nomads and defeats in both of their opening games in the Scottish Premiership.
But McInnes believes it is only a matter of time before Killie, sitting bottom of the table, start hitting form but hopes his side can inflict more misery on the Rugby Park men today.
He said: “I think with the players they’ve got and the confidence that is clearly there, there’s no reason to suggest why they won’t be up there again.
“People ask for predictions but it’s too early. We’ve just got to knuckle down and hopefully deliver on results.
“Over the years, with different managers, it’s always been a tough game for us. It is a ground where we’ve come away with a lot of positive results.
“Kilmarnock’s team last season is the best they’ve had for a while and there’s still the nucleus of that team there. I expect it to be as tough a game as it was last year. We’re going to have our work cut out to get a result but that’s the intention.
“On the back of a couple of days’ rest for some, hopefully we go down there with good focus and good energy to try to be good enough to take all three points from a difficult venue.
“It’s clear for any manager, whether it’s a new manager or somebody who has been there a while, those early games in Europe can really put you under pressure. Certainly the Connah’s Quay game put a real scrutiny on everybody there. If you take that away, and he’s trying to implement his own style and get his own signings, it can be difficult for a manager to do that when you’re thrust upon a very important game right away.
“Kilmarnock have appointed Alessio and they’ve just got to let him get on with it. I’m sure he’ll prove his capabilities. What we can’t shy away from, is that if you look at their last couple of games, they’ve had tight lines, they’ve counter attacked and their prominent players from last season have been prominent again. They’ve been pretty similar. Not a mirror image but maybe closer to the style of team they were last season.”
McInnes, meawhile, is unsurprised to see Celtic linked with a move for Kilmarnock left back Greg Taylor with the Ayrshire club valuing the Scotland international at £3million.
The Dons manager said: “It’s difficult to find a fault in Greg Taylor. He’s a very good player. He’s dependable, he’s got good quality and I’m not the least bit surprised that he’s being linked with other clubs.”
Dean Campbell (hamstring) and Connor McLennan (thigh) will miss the trip to Ayrshire.