Samson happy with Killie young guns
Kilmarnock goalkeeper Craig Samson believes his side have the young talent to rival those of Dundee United as he urged his team-mates to focus on their game rather than worry about Jackie McNamara's in-form players.
United have scored 17 goals in four games ahead of their Scottish Premiership trip to Rugby Park on Saturday, five of them in a William Hill Scottish Cup win over Killie.
United youngsters Ryan Gauld, John Souttar and Stuart Armstrong have been getting rave reviews but Samson feels the likes of 19-year-old winger Chris Johnston, who has scored two goals in two games, offer hope to the future of his club.
Samson, who rejoined Kilmarnock from St Mirren in the summer, said: "When I first came to the club I spoke about Chrissy to a lot of boys I know in football and said how good he was.
"He has shown that over the last few weeks, that he is a massive talent with a big future in the game.
"Another young boy who did very well for us last week is Lee Ashcroft, he showed he can come in at centre-half and do a job as well as young Craig Slater, who has been doing well for us recently.
"Although the Dundee United boys are getting credit - and rightly so, they have been fantastic - we have young boys here who can do well for the club as well."
The 29-year-old added: "You don't need to be in the headlines to be doing well on the pitch. You sometimes don't mind flying under the radar, maybe players don't pay as much attention.
"Young Chrissy has just got to go about his business and not worry about things. We know what Chrissy is doing and we have just got to concentrate on ourselves and help him out.
"He's a great lad, he listens to the older boys in the team and takes their advice."
Samson is keen for his side to take the initiative.
"We have got to look to put our stamp on it rather than worry about what Dundee United have been doing recently," he said.
"They beat us last week and scored five goals but we looked at the game again and took a lot of positives from it.
"We know where we went wrong in that game and we're going into the game to put our stamp on it, go forward and not worry about them too much. We have to eradicate different mistakes.
"They are obviously playing with a lot of confidence and freedom but if you go into games just worrying about what the opponents are going to do, you end up being too defensive and not concentrate on your own performance."
Kilmarnock welcome back captain Manuel Pascali and Darren Barr.
Pascali returns from suspension while Barr has recovered from the injury that kept him out of last weekend's win over Ross County.
James Fowler (ankle) and Ismael Bouzid (knee) remain out while David Silva is still struggling for full fitness.
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara insists his side will not rest on their laurels amid their recent run of fine form.
The Tangerines are sitting third in the Scottish Premiership and head for Kilmarnock in an attempt to keep things going ahead of the festive period.
McNamara's side have been receiving plenty of plaudits but he maintains they will not ease off.
McNamara said: "It's just a case of trying to keep doing the things which have got us into this position.
"They're all level-headed lads who work hard at their game and I would expect them to continue doing so.
"It's always good when you're playing well and winning and we would never get ahead of ourselves.
"We're confident going into every game and that won't change. But the key is to keep focused on the job and make sure we give everything in terms of effort and application."
United beat Killie 5-2 in the Scottish Cup fourth round recently but McNamara is knows that will have no bearing on the outcome of this weekend's meeting at Rugby Park.
He said: "That was a very difficult tie.
"We won well in the end but there was a time when we were 2-1 down and the tie looked in the balance, so we know Killie pose a threat and we will give them every respect.
"What's happened in the past doesn't matter. This is a different game which we have to approach professionally.
"The lads have been training hard all week and know what's at stake if we can carry on winning as many games as possible."
United's goals have been spread around in recent weeks, which pleases McNamara no end.
He said: "That's important as far as we're concerned.
"We're not just relying on the strikers. The other boys have been chipping in as well which is healthy.
"We believe we can score from different areas of the park but we know we'll have to work for anything we get down at Killie."
United defender Gavin Gunning could return after missing last weekend's 4-1 win over Hearts.
Gunning has had a knee problem recently but hopes to reclaim his place in the middle of defence.
Nadir Ciftci is available again following a suspension and hopes to overcome a hamstring strain to lead the line up front.