Conor Sammon has accused Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha of disrespecting Kilmarnock by naming his Light Blues line-up a day early.
The Ibrox manager raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he announced his starting XI a full 30 hours before his side’s Rugby Park clash with Killie.
With a defence ravaged by injuries, the Portuguese coach confirmed youngsters David Bates and Myles Beerman would be making their first-team debuts at Rugby Park.
He later explained he had taken the unusual course of action as a show of faith in his depleted squad.
But Killie frontman Sammon says the move only served to fire up his side as they battled their way to a deserved 0-0 draw on Wednesday night.
“It’s a bit of a strange one to be honest,” he said. “I don’t really understand the whole meaning behind it. I’m not sure if he was trying to highlight the fact that maybe they had a few injuries or something.
“But we used it for a little bit of extra motivation by thinking, ‘Yeah, it’s a little bit disrespectful’.
“It just fuelled us even more to go out and do the business on the park – and I thought we did that.”
Caretaker Killie boss Lee McCulloch was adamant he did not change his starting line-up after Caixinha dispensed with the element of surprise.
But he did tinker with his game-plan, putting Sammon up against teenage left-back Beerman down the right wing.
The 18-year-old former Manchester City winger stood up to the test well and Sammon reckons he could have a big part to play for Rangers going forward.
The Irishman – who was lucky to get away with a clear second-half handball inside his own box – said: “He’s a smallish full-back but I thought he did well. You can see he has a bright future in the game.
“We are always trying to play to our strength and pick up on little weaknesses that we think we can get at.
“It was a good test for us as Rangers are a good side but we’re pleased to get a clean sheet and show some resilience when they had spells of pressure.
“Both teams had chances to win it. Sitting in the dressing room after we were frustrated we hadn’t found the back of the net.
“Seany Longstaff had a great chance right at the end but overall a draw was maybe a fair result.”
Beerman revealed he only discovered he was playing when Caixinha handed his line-up to the media during his pre-match press conference.
With skipper Lee Wallace now facing a month on the sidelines following surgery on an abdominal problem, the youngster could find himself vying with Lee Hodson for a starting slot when this month’s Old Firm double header with Celtic comes around.
And Beerman insists he is ready and willing to face the newly-crowned Ladbrokes Premiership champions if Caixinha needs him.
“It was different class,” grinned the Malta Under-21 international after his top-team bow. “It’s always been my dream to be a professional footballer from a young age when I was a kid back in Malta.
“I can’t really describe my feelings after making my debut for such a massive club with such a massive history.
“I spoke to Lee before the game. He’s a great guy and really encouraged me. He gave me tips ahead of the game and told me to keep focused, to do my best and play for the badge.
“I’ll just keep on working hard, doing my best and at the end of the day it will be the manager’s decision (if I stay in the team to face Celtic). I just need to make sure I’m ready for it, no matter my age or physicallity. As a Rangers player, you’ve got to be ready mentally whenever the manager needs you so you can go out and perform no matter the circumstances.”