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 Friday’s Betfred Cup game at Rugby Park as the striker catches up on fitness following a minor injury early in pre-season.
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 for the visit of his former club.
“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. That’s important. It’s also important to try to win the game because we want to go as far as we can in the competition.”
Killie started last season with defeat by Ayr and, although they qualified for the second round, their campaign did not pick up until Clarke was appointed in mid-October.
But Clarke has warned that continuing the momentum that took them from bottom to fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership is not straightforward.
“What we did last season is history,” he said. “We have to do the same again next season. We have to obviously try and start better than the team did last season.
“We need to as quickly as possible find the rhythm and momentum that we had as a team, but that’s easier said than done.”
Clarke has continuity with his squad remaining largely intact, although key player Youssouf Mulumbu has moved on. The Killie boss has been selective in the transfer market so far, bringing in forward Mikael Ndjoli on loan from Bournemouth as well as making Stuart Findlay’s loan move from Newcastle a permanent deal.
“The players who did so well for me last season deserve the chance to do it again,” he said.
“We are always looking in the market if we can find one or two who can help the squad, but we don’t feel the urgency of going out into the market to chase people.
“If they turn up, that’s great, if not then we go with what we had last season. We will also be strong and hopefully good enough.”