Johnston lifted by Killie displays
Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston feels there are signs that 2014 could be a good year for his team.
The Ayrshire outfit were beaten 3-0 by Hibernian on Sunday but wins in three of their previous four matches against Ross County, Partick Thistle and Hearts had eased any relegation concerns at the Premiership basement.
And those successes, combined with the form of some of the club's promising young players such as Chris Johnston, Rory McKenzie, Lee Ashcroft and Craig Slater, has left Johnston is positive mood heading into the new year.
Johnston, whose side are ninth in the standings and two points adrift of Thursday's visitors St Mirren, said: "The boys are doing extremely well. We weren't far away against Hibs and I don't think we merited a 3-0 defeat
"It's been encouraging, the young players that have come in and the experienced players as well have gelled well together.
"We've got to carry our recent form through to 2014.
"We've got a lot of big games coming up, none more so than the game against St Mirren."
The exhausting festive schedule sees Kilmarnock face St Mirren in their fourth games in 13 days.
Johnston knows his players will be feeling the effects of the physically demanding period but will not be making any excuses.
He added: "I'm sure there will be elements of fatigue but it's the same for both sets of players and we have a lot of young players so I would imagine they're fit enough to handle the schedule."
Johnston is also hoping his side learn the lessons of the Hibs defeat.
He said "It was disappointing to lose a goal from a corner, especially with somebody getting a free header.
"It was disappointing and all the players were disappointed to lose such a soft goal to start with.
"At 1-0 you have to learn that you're still in the game and you cannot get caught on the counter-attack.
"We ended up getting beaten 3-0 and it looked like we had been thrashed when there was not much in the game."
St Mirren defender Darren McGregor believes Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd is good enough to lead Scotland's charge for Euro 2016.
The Paisley men will have to handle the Rugby Park poacher with care when they travel to Ayrshire on Thursday as Boyd looks to build on his 11-goal tally.
McGregor is preparing to go head to head directly with the former Rangers striker for the first time but has no doubts the 30-year-old is good enough to return to international action.
Boyd was handed a Dark Blues recall by Gordon Strachan for the November friendly with Norway after a three-year wait but was left on the bench as the Scots ended 2013 with a 1-0 win.
However, Buddies centre-half McGregor told Press Association Sport: "I think Kris is good enough to become a Scotland regular again.
"You judge a striker on his ability to put the ball in the back of the net and his record speaks for itself.
"He's so dangerous and is on top form right now. He deserved his call up for the Norway game and will probably feel disappointed not to have been given a run out. But he can definitely be an asset for us if Gordon Strachan decides to use him from the start."
Boyd was sent off the last time the sides met in August after lashing out at Saints skipper Jim Goodwin.
McGregor played at right-back that day but will be positioned at the heart of Danny Lennon's defence for Thursday's meeting and cannot wait to get to grips with the Scottish Premiership's record scorer.
"I've not actually played up against him before," said the former Cowdenbeath man. "The last time we played Killie a few months ago I was at right-back, but I'm looking forward to pitting my wits against him this time.
"It will be interesting - a battle that I'm eager to get involved in. He's a goalscorer and probably one of the all-time greats of the SPL.
"It will be good to test myself against him. I won't be able to give him a minute's peace. If you switch off, he looks for that and punishes you. You could play well for 89 minutes and he will score from your one mistake."