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Derek McInnes revealed that Kilmarnock’s Scottish Cup hero Kyle Vassell came close to missing the game with Dundee United.

The 30-year-old striker only declared himself fit on Friday but scored what proved to be the winner to take the Ayrshire side through to the quarter-finals.

United’s misery was made complete when debutant Loick Ayina, the on-loan Huddersfield defender, was sent off late on.

However, it was an afternoon to remember for Killie and McInnes.

The manager said: “I’ve been delighted with Kyle. I wanted him to be more instinctive.

“He nearly never made it today. His hamstring has been tight all week. What a boost he gave me and the team when he announced he was fit on Friday.

“He’s different to what we’ve got – he’s strong, confident and can score different types of goals. But he can get us up the pitch too.”

The win was Killie’s first on the road since the end of August and McInnes added: “We have won games in the League Cup away from home this season but our form on the road has been well documented.

“It’s like Basil Fawlty – don’t mention the war. We can’t make too many references to the away form but we’re heading one way if we don’t deal with it.

“We don’t need to be brilliant away from home but we should be picking up points.”

Liam Fox insists his United players need to be braver after being dumped out of the cup.

The defeat was the Tangerines’ fourth in a row and, with vital Premiership games looming large on the horizon for the relegation-threatened club, the head coach wants his team to stand up and be counted.

The 39-year-old said: “Whenever you go out the cup it’s obviously disappointing. I thought the first half was very nervy and scrappy. I needed to see more personality and bravery.

“When Killie scored we wobbled a bit which is not something we have seen for a while so that’s disappointing.

“There was a real nervousness about the group and it affected us. We need to be braver than that, we have some huge games, really important games, coming up.

“So we need to be braver and show our personality more. We didn’t work the keeper enough or create enough chances.

“The goal was disappointing, a free header in the box – it’s not good enough.”