Chris Burke isn’t a player Celtic will fear by any stretch, but he’ll be heading into Wednesday night’s contest with plenty of confidence.
That’s because the former Rangers and Cardiff City man managed to bag six assists in one game on Saturday. Kilmarnock’s 6-0 hammering of Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup saw Burke set up every single goal.
It’s new manager Alex Dyer’s first win in three attempts after defeats to Rangers and St Mirren respectively. It’s also the first six goals of Dyer’s reign too, showing just how tricky a start Kilmarnock have had under Steve Clarke’s Scotland assistant.
As for Burke, it’s interesting to note that four of his assists came from cross-balls. That’s an area where Celtic have been poor in recent matches. Nikola Katic bagged Rangers’ winner at Parkhead from a corner, whilst Kenny Miller missed a total sitter last night from a low ball across goal.
Burke will need to be watched closely, and closing his deliveries down from the right will be crucial to limiting Kilmarnock’s opportunities.
Big injury doubts for Killie?
There are question marks over whether Eamonn Brophy and Rory McKenzie will be fit for Wednesday too. Both men seem to be having trouble with hamstring injuries. McKenzie picked up one in the final game of December (BBC), whilst Brophy has also apparently been struggling with one (Daily Record).
Should both miss out, Killie may really be struggling for a plan B up top. Against Queen’s Park, Dyer played Greg Kiltie as a makeshift striker. New signing Nicke Kabamba came on and scored too, but he was recently plying his trade with Hartlepool United. Hardly a player we should have trouble with.
It’s no surprise that Dyer’s side have struggled with goals since his appointment with the lack of attacking threats they have. The pacey Liam Millar joined Osman Sow and Simeon Jackson in departing Kilmarnock this month. Their attacking options are seriously depleted if Brophy misses out too.
But we have to be wary of Dyer’s ability to frustrate. His Kilmarnock side limited Rangers at Ibrox in his first game in charge before slipping to a 1-0 defeat. He continues to play with a 4-3-3, but that can easily turn into two defensive banks of four and five.
Rugby Park has proven to be a painful ground for us in recent times of course. It took a last-minute goal to win there back in February under Brendan Rodgers. In our previous two visits before that, we ended up on the losing side twice.
Stuart Findlay, the man who scored a last-minute winner against us back in September 2018, is back after previously being out for several months. He scored a brace against Queen’s Park, adding to the confidence that will be growing in Ayrshire.
With the likes of he and Burke likely flying ahead of Wednesday, it’s even more imperative we stay wary of them.