Football: Fresh start for new Saint home

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The Independent Online
BILLY KIRKWOOD will be back in the dugout today ready to launch a new chapter in his career. The former Dundee United manager left the backroom staff at Hull this week to become assistant boss to Sandy Clark at St Johnstone.

Saints entertain Aberdeen today, almost two years to the day since Kirkwood was sacked as Tannadice manager four games into the season.

He then moved to Hong Kong before taking up an offer to join Mark Hateley on Humberside. Now he is thrilled to be back home and believes the Perth club have the potential to become one of the leading lights in Scottish football.

"St Johnstone are very forward looking and the chairman (Geoff Brown) has everything up and running here," he said. "I am delighted to be back in Perth. It is a perfect move for me as the family live here."

Saints' former Republic of Ireland defender Alan Kernaghan is receiving treatment in a bid to shrug off a knee problem, while John McQuillan is struggling with a shoulder injury.

Aberdeen have not won any of their last four games but could go top of the table, depending on results.

Manager Alex Miller will welcome back midfielder Craig Hignett, who missed the draw against Motherwell because of suspension.

Striker Mike Newell said yesterday, "We've had a steady start to the season and a win tomorrow would give everyone a boost."

Tayside rivals Dundee and Dundee United meet for the first time this season in a bottom of the table derby.

Dundee notched up their first victory of the new campaign last week against Hearts, while United have still to get off the mark.

Dens Park manager Jocky Scott said: "We have taken a good bit of confidence from our last two games.

"But there is no point in winning at Tynecastle and dropping points at home, especially against your neighbours.

"We know that in this league a steady stream of points can rocket you up the table and that's what we have to aim at."

New United boss Paul Sturrock had an impressive record as a player in local derbies but knows it will be tough tomorrow.

"We need to kick start our season and get a league victory," he said. "It would be a bonus to do it against Dundee."

Motherwell's new player-cum-director Pat Nevin is expected to face his former Kilmarnock team-mates at Fir Park.

The former Scottish international moved across to his new club last month amid mounting criticism about his new role.

Nevin is expected to supply the ammunition for strike pair Owen Coyle and former Ross County forward Derek Adams.

Said Coyle, "What's important is that we maintain the form we've shown over the past few weeks. We've made a decent start to the season in my book."

Top two Rangers and Celtic meet tomorrow at Ibrox, while Dunfermline entertain Hearts.