Football: Scottish Preview

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The Independent Online
ST JOHNSTONE'S Alan Kernaghan and Motherwell's Ged Brannan are two of a kind; both suffered rejection at Manchester City and rebuilt their careers north of the border.

They meet in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Fir Park today having each been labelled expensive misfits at Maine Road, but since hailed as bargain buys in Scotland.

Brannan joined City for pounds 750,000 from Tranmere, but was viewed as a utility player and never established a regular position in the starting line-up and was sold for pounds 300,000 earlier this term.

Kernaghan's decline and fall was more dramatic still as after signing for City from Middlesbrough for pounds 1.6m, the Republic of Ireland international centre-half endured abject misery. His salvation was a loan spell to Perth last season which prompted a free transfer arrangement which left City with a financial loss, but the player himself with a huge psychological boost.

Ironically, the moment Kernaghan knew his Maine Road days were numbered was when today's adversary Brannan, a midfielder, was preferred to him in at the heart of defence.

Kernaghan said: "I can relate to what happened to Ged. He thought his career was on the up when he moved from Tranmere for pounds 750,000 and I was thinking that way when I joined City. But the moves backfired badly for us both."

Saints have reached and lost the Scottish League Cup final this season and Kernaghan is optimistic of a rare double with a happier outcome in May.

Dundee United's manager, Paul Sturrock, has warned his players that too many are under-performing too often as they prepare to face a fourth- round replay against Clydebank. He said: "I may freshen up the team because we need the right attitude and work-rate for this one because there have been too many heartaches lately."

Dunfermline yesterday completed the pounds 170,000 capture of Motherwell's Owen Coyle. The 32-year-old had been first choice at Motherwell and primed to play against St Johnstone today. Now he should instead make his Pars debut at Kilmarnock with the bottom club, Dunfermline.