Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Be The Boss - Scott McClymont

It's time once again for Be The Boss, the feature where we throw someone in at the deep end and ask them who they'd pick in their first XI for that weekend's game. This week we asked STV journalist and Killie fan Scott McClymont to pick his XI for Saturday's game against Rangers and give his reasons...


One of the most noticeable factors about this Kilmarnock side is how disorganised they have appeared at times throughout the campaign. This match against an in-form Rangers side is one that requires a clear and effective strategy in order to achieve a positive result.

A radical change in formation with only one week's practice would likely be counter productive but a 4-1-4-1 formation should allow Killie's best attacking players to thrive while counteracting Mark Warburton's favoured 4-3-3 system. Similar to Falkirk's approach against Rangers in recent matches, restricting space out wide must be in conjunction with pressing quickly in central areas to limit Jason Holt and Andy Halliday's time on the ball.

This plan requires discipline and concentration from both Killie's wide players and full backs to ensure they nulify the threat posed by forwards Barrie McKay and Martyn Waghorn as well as defenders Lee Wallace and James Tavernier.

GK: Jamie MacDonald

The most successful of the summer signings, Jamie MacDonald produced an outstanding and largely overlooked triple save in the last round against St Johnstone to ensure Killie reached the fifth round. Despite forming part of Hearts' victorious side in 2012, the 29-year-old may feel he have some extra motivation in this competition after he spilleded a shot for the winning goal in last year's final. One to be trusted on the big occasion.

RB: Lee Hodson

Right back has been a real problem position in recent years and while David Syme hasn't disgraced himself out of position, it's time for a natural full-back to take his place. Hodson has played three times for MK Dons in January and so should be match fit for Saturday. Mark Warburton will know all about Hodson's strengths having worked together at Watford and the Northern Ireland international should focus solely on his defensive duties to shore up what has been a fragile Kilmarnock back four.

CB: Conrad Balatoni

Balatoni has been as solid a defensive performer as Killie have had this term and provides a threat from attacking set plays. He must avoid the temptation to play a high line or be dragged wide into one-on-one situations against Kenny Miller. The former Partick Thistle man is at his best when focusing on the simpler aspects of defending while allowing his partner to try and bring the ball out from the back.

CB: Stuart Findlay

He remains rough around the edges but Killie's rare moments of defensive solidity have come when the on-loan Celtic man plays alongside the more experienced Balatoni. Although he can appear slightly awkward in style, Findlay is comfortable on the ball and that may be important against a home side who try to starve their opponents of possession. Must not be bullied by Martyn Waghorn.

LB: Kevin McHattie

Part of the Hearts side which beat Rangers at Ibrox on the opening day of last season, Kevin McHattie mirrors his game on his opposite number Lee Wallace. Capable defensively, he is at his best when supporting the attack and supplying the forwards with crosses to attack. McHattie has fared well on the two occasions he has faced Michael O'Halloran this season, although the former St. Johnstone forward is cup-tied.

DM: Gary Dicker

Another new arrival who would go straight into my starting line up. His experience of coming up against Ross Barkley and Everton last week will stand him in good stead and ensure he's not overawed by the transition to Scottish football. Rangers have made a habit of scoring goals courtesy of third man runs from Jason Holt and Andy Halliday and Dicker's job will be to break down Rangers attacks at the source.

RM: Rory McKenzie

Despite being disrupted by injuries, Rory is probably enjoying his most consistent spell of form since breaking into the first team. His energy and versatility are valuable assets to the side and he could move to a more central position off the main striker should it be required.

CM: Craig Slater

Forced off after 23 minutes against Hamilton, the Scotland U21 international will hopefully recover in time to take his spot in the starting XI. While he'll have to perform some defensive tasks, Slater should be encouraged to play as a box-to-box midfielder and utilise his shooting ability from distance. Appeared one of the players to suffer from stage fright at Ibrox last year, hopefully he's able to perform much better this time around.

CM: Kallum Higginbotham

A maverick who is capable of producing the unexpected and spectacular, Kallum Higginbotham has been much more effective since being moved from the wing and into a central role. Higginbotham's dribbling ability helps drive the team up the field and relieves pressure on the backline. Having failed to score since September, the 26-year-old is due a goal. Could swap with McKenzie or Kiltie if required.

LM: Greg Kiltie

One of the country's most promising youngsters, Kiltie's emergence and decision to stay at Rugby Park has been one of the few things to put a smile on the face of Killie fans in recent times. Enthusiastic and talented, the teenager has chipped in with three goals this term but is still developing when going back towards his own goal as was proved in the last away game at Tannadice.

CF: Josh Magennis

While there's unlikely to be anyone more desperate to prove a point at Ibrox on Saturday than Kris Boyd, Josh Magennis has earned his place as the club's number one forward this season. The Northern Irishman has led by example and his ability to press and harry Rangers' central defenders will be crucial to any potential away triumph.

What do you think? Let us know on Twitter: @KillieFC

Or have your say on the Killie Kickback forum here.

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