Kilmarnock V Dundee Utd at Rugby Park : Match Preview

13 May 2016
Kilmarnock V Dundee Utd - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Lee Clark insists there will be no repeat of Dundee United turmoil at Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark says he has been given assurances there will be no repeat of the Tannadice turmoil at Rugby Park if his side follow Dundee United through the top-flight trapdoor.

The Tangerines have started clearing out their squad after sacking manager Mixu Paatelainen as they face up to drastic cost cuts following their relegation from the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Killie could join them in the second tier next term if they fail to overcome either Falkirk or Hibernian in next week's play-off battle.

Demotion would put the Ayrshire outfit under even greater financial strain after "unsustainable" B#724,406 annual losses were announced last month.

But Clark said: "There won't be turmoil here. We've got systems and structures in place hopefully for us to stay in the league. But if the worse-case scenario was to happen we've got structures to come back even stronger.

"So [that situation at Dundee United] won't happen here. That was part of my negotiations with the club before I got here and why it took so long for things to get over the line."

But Clark does admit he will have to let players go this summer regardless of what happens in the play-offs. Jamie Hamill, Ross Barbour and Scott Robinson have already been released but that still leaves Clark with a 27-man first-team squad - a number he admits is too big.

"It will be leaner next year," said the former Birmingham and Blackpool boss. "It will be a squad that has big physical outputs and a lot of athleticism, so we certainly will be changing things.

"It's about quality over quantity. When you think of where we are now with the size of squad we have, then it's clear enough players haven't made a contribution over the course of the season, so we have to look at that and go with a leaner group."

Clark will give some of his squad the final day of the regular season off as he prepares for their play-off battle. Mark O'Hara is suspended, while defenders Steven Smith (hip), David Syme (fractured leg) and Mark Connolly (hip) remain out alongside winger Chris Johnston (knee).

Meanwhile, John Rankin admits he does not like farewells but hopes to add one more happy Dundee United memory with a parting thank you to supporters in the shape of three points.

Rankin has had an emotional few weeks. It was plainly evident how much United's relegation affected him as he spoke to fans after a damaging home defeat to Hamilton and the decisive loss to local rivals Dundee at Dens Park.

Days later he was told he would not be offered a new contract and he was fighting tears after playing his last match at Tannadice on Tuesday, skippering the side to a 3-3 draw against Partick Thistle before getting an ovation when he was substituted in the closing stages.

The final curtain comes at Rugby Park where new manager Ray McKinnon will watch from the stand as United finish a painful season.

"I've got great memories of my five years," the 32-year-old said.

"Leading the club out at the semi-final at Ibrox (in 2014) when there was a siege mentality that day. We were outnumbered that day and the crowd was unbelievable, to get to the final was probably the proudest moment I have had here.

"I have had a great five years and I have played with some unbelievable players, young players who applied themselves and moved on and made the club a lot of money.

"It's not a nice thing saying goodbye. The way my family has been received here and the way the supporters have reacted to me, I have loved every minute of it. My kids are now Dundee United supporters, they don't know anything else.

"Tuesday was tough. I don't have any regrets whatsoever apart from this season when ultimately we have gone down."

Rankin admits his imminent departure is yet to sink in.

"I think it will probably come after Kilmarnock on Saturday," he said.

"Tuesday was my last home game and I wasn't really sure how it would go. I don't really like goodbyes. I would rather 'trap-door it' and shoot out.

"I would have loved to have won my last game at Tannadice but it wasn't to be, so Saturday it is. If we can go to Rugby Park and get three points that would be a great way to bow out.

"I don't know how many of the boys will be here next season but we are playing for pride and that last wee thing for the supporters to send them home on their holidays with something to think about for next season."

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