Kilmarnock V St Mirren at Rugby Park : Match Preview

02 April 2013 04:01
Kilmarnock V St Mirren - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Dayton "deserves England call"

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels insists he is deadly serious when he says England manager Roy Hodgson should be taking a closer look at winger James Dayton.

The 24-year-old Londoner will sit out the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Mirren and looks set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a punctured lung and broken ribs in the weekend win over Ross County.

But Shiels claims the former Crystal Palace trainee has done well enough in his 31 outings this season to merit a call-up for Hodgson's squad.

He said: "We have lost Dayton which is a big loss for us. He's a big player and adds a lot in the attacking third. He was on the verge of an England call-up, we were thinking.

"I know you might find that funny but other players who have been recommended for Scotland and England are not in the same league as James.

"I don't see why, just because he is wearing a Kilmarnock shirt, he can't be recognised as an international player and I think he is on the verge of it.

"It's obvious that because he is playing for Kilmarnock, (James) wouldn't get the same recognition but believe me, he is good enough. Technically (he's good enough) and his game understanding has improved considerably since he came up here and over the last four or five months he's been one of the top players."

St Mirren visit Rugby Park fresh from their Scottish Communities League Cup win and their weekend draw with Celtic.

But while Killie need just four points from their last two games before the SPL split to clinch a top-six slot, Saints are in 10th place with no hope of reaching the upper half of the top flight.

Shiels, however, believes the Paisley outfit are a better side than their placing suggests.

He said: "St Mirren are a very good team, they are a top-four squad. There is no doubt about that. They have got quality players - great combination players. It's a tough, tough game for us.

"They are in 10th position but they are not far off fourth and I think Danny knows they are good enough to be up there in the top four. Certainly I do with the players they have. It will be a big ask for us to get something from this game and we are approaching it in that manner.

"But it's a great opportunity for us (to seal a top-six place) and we will do our best, that's all we can do."

Saints manager Danny Lennon wants his Hampden heroes to finish their campaign on a high and cement their legendary status with the Paisley faithful.

They got back to league business against Celtic on Sunday following their trophy triumph, fighting back from a goal down to snatch a creditable 1-1 draw with the SPL champions.

But the point gained was not enough to keep them in the chase for the top six.

However, with the 10th-placed Buddies set to take on Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, Lennon has not yet conceded his hopes of moving up the table.

Saints ended last term in eighth - their best top-flight finish in 21 years - and the former Cowdenbeath boss is hopeful of pairing this season's cup success with another landmark league performance.

Lennon - whose team beat Hearts 3-2 last month to claim their first trophy for 26 years - told Press Association Sport: "The cup win has certainly given us a wee spring in our step and we are hungry for more success. But the league is our bread and butter and we need to improve our performances.

"The table doesn't lie. On a plus side it tells us that we have more points than we had this time last season. We have scored more goals and are closer to the top six in terms of points.

"But on the negative side, we are sitting 10th in the table. However, we believe we can achieve better than that.

"We are progressing and the good news is that the season isn't over yet. We have now got some positive momentum and a strong desire to finish off the season on a high.

"We want to improve on our position of eighth from last season, which was our best finish for 21 years. If we can do that, it will be a very special season."

Lennon has no fresh injury worries.

Source: PA