skip to content
Manager Shiels pleads for fans' understanding
Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels expects some understanding from supporters ahead of the new Clydesdale Bank Premier League season after a summer of transition and uncertainty.
The SPL have removed most of the financial fears prompted by the loss of Rangers by renewing their television deals with Sky and ESPN this week but the news has come too late for most managers to replenish their playing squads before Saturday's kick-off.
Shiels lost son Dean to Rangers ahead of the visit of Dundee while Paul Heffernan and Garry Hay both face several months on the sidelines with injury.
The Killie manager has brought in left-back Jeroen Tesselaar from St Mirren and forward Rory Boulding from Livingston but, like every SPL manager, has seen many more players depart.
The likes of Ben Gordon, David Silva and Dieter van Tornhout have gone and Shiels thinks it would be unrealistic to anticipate a repeat of last season, when Kilmarnock finished seventh and won the Scottish Communities League Cup.
"We have lost eight quality players, we have lost goals, we have lost a lot of assets in the playing squad," he said. "I'm sure the expectations of the fans will be realistic.
"We have got to look at the reality and have a clear understanding of where we are. There is no way supporters' expectations are going to be greater.
"They understand the predicament we are in, the extenuating circumstances of the club. It's in debt and we have to manage our finances accordingly.
"The expectation of the club is to stay in the SPL and build on our youth policy so that we will progress gradually over the next few years."
Shiels expects a tough test from Dundee despite their selection issues, which saw manager Barry Smith on the bench as his team beat Peterhead on penalties in the League Cup on Tuesday.
"I was up watching them at Peterhead and they will surprise a lot of teams this year," Shiels said.
"Dundee are a big club and they have got an impetus, drive and freshness about them and they will certainly be a team to be reckoned with. They have got some very good players."
Killie have some issues in defence with Garry Hay facing a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury and Alex Pursehouse out with a knock. However, centre-back Ryan O'Leary should overcome a fitness doubt to play.
Former St Mirren left-back Jeroen Tesselaar and former Livingston striker Rory Boulding could make their debuts.
Mark Stewart regularly found the net against Dundee while at Falkirk and Hamilton - now he wants to make sure he can maintain the goalscoring habit while playing for the Dark Blues.
Stewart is in line for his competitive debut after signing for Dundee on Thursday.
The 24-year-old hit a double in a 3-3 draw against Dundee in his final season with Falkirk and his only goal in a loan spell for Hamilton last season came against the Tayside club.
Stewart, who was released by Bradford, told the club's official website: "I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago asking me to come up for a couple of weeks and I had an offer made to me on Thursday and I agreed it straight away.
"I'm delighted to be here - it's a big opportunity for me especially after having maybe not the best season last year.
"I've got something like four goals in six games playing against Dundee, but now I want to score goals for them."
Stewart has SPL experience with Falkirk and netted 17 goals for the Bairns in the First Division.
"I had a brilliant season a couple of years ago and got my move to England because of that," he said.
"It never worked down south for various reasons, change of manager, getting an injury, loss of form, etc.
"I came back up to Hamilton on loan, and although I didn't play brilliantly it was always better to get a game on a consistent basis than to sit in the stand at Bradford.
"That's the way I look at it and I've now been give this opportunity by the gaffer (Barry Smith) to come to a club of the size of Dundee and look forward to the new season in the SPL.
"It's a big season, not just for me but for the whole club - it's brilliant and a club with the support this one does deserves to be back in the SPL."
Stewart is behind his team-mates in terms of fitness but could be involved as Smith was so short of players in Tuesday's Scottish Communities League Cup win over Peterhead that he named himself on the bench.
Dundee hope to have former Aberdeen defender Davide Grassi in their squad.
Grassi has joined Dundee from FC Brussels but the Dens Park club are awaiting international clearance.
© 2004 - 2015 football.co.uk