KILMARNOCK assistant manager Jimmy Nicholl stressed his players will be ready for Hearts, despite feeling like they’ve “been relegated”.
That was how Nicholl described the disappointment of missing out on the SPL’s top six after the Ayrshire club failed to win either of their last two pre-split fixtures against St Mirren and Dundee.
Hearts visit Rugby Park on Saturday as Nicholl and the Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels seek a reaction from their squad.
“We’re at home and, for our own supporters, we’ve got something to give,” Nicholl told the Evening News.
“We’ve got three home games so let’s see if we can put things right. We haven’t been great at times at Rugby Park this season.
“We’re curious how our boys are going to react against Hearts after what happened before the split. Don’t let the season go, that’s the challenge. If you’d said to us at the start of the season that we’d end up with two home games against St Mirren and Dundee – no disrespect to them – needing one win to make the top six, we’d have fancied our chances.
“When it didn’t materialise it was horrendous. I was talking to the boys after the Dundee game and I said, ‘d’you know, I feel like I’ve been relegated’. That was how bad I felt, such was the disappointment about the place. Hearts, along with Hibs and Aberdeen, will be just as disappointed as us to be in the bottom six, but every club has a cause to play for.
“We all want to finish seventh now so that’s the challenge for everyone.
“We don’t want to let things slip and Hearts will be the same.
“If we aren’t ready then Hearts will punish us with the players they have, there’s no doubt about that.”