Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke taking nothing for granted in top-six battle

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke believes his side’s place in the top six is not yet secure, despite Saturday’s 3-2 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Ross County.

Goals from Lee Erwin, Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy ensured all three points for the Ayrshire side and extended their unbeaten run at Rugby Park to 10 games.

The result moved Clarke’s men four points clear of sixth-placed Hearts and eight ahead of seventh-spotted Motherwell, but the Killie boss is taking nothing for granted.

“You’re never cemented,” Clarke said. “The results this weekend have gone for us a little bit so it’s beginning to look like we might sneak into the top six. But we’ll keep our feet on the ground and focus on the next game.

“We’ve still got hard games to play before the split. There are still points to play for so we’ll respect all our opponents and we’ll try and pick up as many points as we can.”

The Kilmarnock boss also shed light on the fitness of winger Jordan Jones, who missed the Ross County game through injury, ahead of Tuesday’s Scottish Cup replay against Aberdeen.

“He’s got a chance,” Clarke said. “An outside chance, but he’s got a chance.

“He’ll be in constantly getting treatment, the physio will be working overtime and we’ll do what we can.

“But if we haven’t got him, we showed (on Saturday) we’ve got people that can come in and play well for us. I thought young Greg Kiltie, who hasn’t had much football this year, showed in patches what he’s all about. We need to get him a little bit more consistent and a little bit more up to speed but it was nice to see.”

The win for Kilmarnock piled more pressure on relegation-threatened County, who remained seven points adrift of safety.

It was the first match in charge for the Highlanders’ new interim co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell, and the latter admitted the defeat was another setback in the club’s fight against the drop.

“We’re obviously bitterly disappointed,” Kettlewell said. “It wasn’t the way we wanted to start, myself and Steven. We were obviously looking to get on the front foot and start with a win.

“From our point of view, we’ve got to strip it back and we’ve got to have a think about where it went wrong and from our point of view it was in that middle period of the game where Kilmarnock got the better of it.”

Ross County host fellow strugglers Hamilton in their next match, and Kettlewell acknowledged the importance that fixture will now take in deciding the team’s fate.

He said: “Next week becomes a completely different game, and we’ll obviously take that on its own merit.”

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