SPL

Rory McKenzie making most of last years in football with big push for Kilmarnock

By Sports Desk May 26, 2023

Rory McKenzie aims to make the most of the adrenaline rush of Kilmarnock’s survival battle.

Killie maintained 10th place in the cinch Premiership with a 3-0 win at Dundee United on Wednesday but they still need a result against Ross County to avoid a relegation play-off.

McKenzie has made more than 350 appearances for Killie but he still experiences nerves ahead of occasions like Sunday’s Rugby Park clash.

The 29-year-old said: “I have tried to put a spin on it that one day I am not going to be playing football, I will have a normal job, and in a few years I won’t have this feeling.

“In a few years’ time there won’t be the adrenaline rush that I have for the next three days so I am trying to spin it that way and enjoy it the best I can.

“The worst part is now. I was quite nervous leading up to the Dundee United game and the best I felt was when I was walking out. That’s when you know you are in control of it.

“Waiting about for the game for three days, you just wish the game was tomorrow, you want to get it out the way, you want to play the game.”

Manager Derek McInnes has been clear that avoiding relegation has been the aim this season as Killie look to consolidate their Championship title win.

McKenzie said: “That’s always been the goal this season, nothing else. The fact that comes down to Sunday against a team that are fighting for the exact same thing is quite exciting. Two years in a row, it’s not good for anyone’s heart.

“I probably found it mentally tougher last year, with going to win. I felt there was more pressure and I had never experienced that before. Usually it’s been about staying in the league and last year was about trying to win the league, and that was different for me.

“Don’t get me wrong, this is just as big, probably bigger but I do believe we have got what it takes.

“Against Arbroath, there was an expectation on us to win the league and I struggled with that at times.”

A draw will do Killie while County need to win.

McKenzie said: “It’s a game we just have to treat like any other and go out and try and win because we are not very good at trying to see out draws.

“We have good home form, we are good on the front foot, there will be a lot of people here, and that’s our aim, to go and win the game, not sit and wait for a draw.”

McInnes expects Kyle Vassell to play through the pain after taking a knock to an ongoing knee injury after scoring twice at Tannadice.

“We have got everybody fit from the game the other day,” the manager said.

“The only doubt is Vassell but we think he will be OK in terms of getting him out there.

“He took another knock on the injury but we are hoping he will be fine as he has been doing for the last while, not doing very much training and just getting him out there.

“Then hopefully with a positive result on Sunday we can give him a proper rest, because that’s all he needs.

“His goals have been vital but he has a charisma and confidence about him, he leads the line well, he has a bullishness about him and that rubs off. Psychologically it’s important that he is out there on Sunday.

“Joe Wright, Ryan Alebiosu and Alan Power have a chance as well.”

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