We still have our own agenda – Derek McInnes focused on Killie amid title battle

The Killie boss is focused only on a European spot

We still have our own agenda – Derek McInnes focused on Killie amid title battle SNS Group

Derek McInnes has stressed that Kilmarnock have their “own agenda” in the final four cinch Premiership fixtures which could see them influence the Old Firm title race.

Celtic are leading second-placed Rangers by three points, with Killie visiting Ibrox on Sunday and hosting the Hoops in the penultimate league match of the season.

The Rugby Park outfit beat Rangers on the opening day of the campaign and knocked Celtic out of the Viaplay Cup while also taking four points from nine from the Parkhead club in the league.

McInnes has guided his side to fourth place in the table, nine points ahead of St Mirren and 11 in front of Dundee, and his efforts were recognised with a nomination for the Managers and Coaches Association of Scotland SPFL Manager of the Year award.

While it is widely believed that the Ayrshire side could have a say in where the title ends up, the Killie boss is focused only on a European spot.

“The biggest impact on who wins the league will come from Rangers and Celtic,” said McInnes, who revealed attacker Greg Stewart has had a hernia operation but could be back for the end of the season.

“A lot of time people focus on their opponents and say, ‘There is a game they could slip up’ and ‘There is a tough opponent there’.

“Rangers and Celtic are in a situation where it is the first title fight for a while and it is exciting for everybody.

“We still have our own agenda, we have to try to finish the season strongly.

“We don’t want to feel that the season has finished now because we have reached top six.

“And there was no huge celebrations with that, we were actually disappointed at Tynecastle that we didn’t win the game.

“We moved on quickly to what’s next and what’s next is qualifying for Europe and we are almost there.

“I can’t say it officially but we are almost there. A lot of things would need to go against us for that not to be the case but we still have work to do to secure fourth place.

“When we play Rangers and Celtic it will be no different from us in terms of facing them and the difficulties and challenges of playing against good teams.

“The challenge for Rangers and Celtic is to find their best form between now and the end of the season because whoever finds their best form between now and the end of the season might just win the league.”

McInnes and former colleague, Dundee boss Tony Docherty, are on a three-man shortlist for the manager of the year award, along with Falkirk boss John McGlynn.

McInnes was pleased with the nomination from his peers but believes he did better work last season when dragging Kilmarnock away from the relegation zone in their first season back in the top flight.

He said: “It is quite ironic. As tough as it was last season, you probably feel you do more as a manager, you feel that you do a lot of your better work when you have to deal with a crisis and try to make sure we are good enough to get over the line.

“This season has actually been a bit easier to manage, even though you get recognition from it because your team is doing well. That is all down to recruitment and players.

“Managing is easier when you are winning games and when you have trust in your players.

“I don’t think I have become a better manager this year than I was last year. Last year was a tougher test but this year has been so enjoyable, it really has.

“I have really enjoyed this season, we have four games to go and hopefully there is a couple of highlights still in us.”

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