Kilmarnock look to home advantage

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The Independent Online
Safety is the key to tonight's rearranged Scottish Premier Division match between Kilmarnock and Hearts at Rugby Park.

Alex Totten, the Kilmarnock manager, wants his side to capitalise on home advantage to avoid any chance of dropping out of the top flight.

Kilmarnock have four out of their remaining six games at Rugby Park, as they seek to finish above the relegation play-off place, which is second bottom.

They are currently three points ahead of Dundee United with tonight's opponents, the beaten Tennents Scottish Cup semi-finalists, a point better off.

"It's a very important match for both sides under the circumstances, and if we win we would go above Hearts, which would be significant,'' Totten said. "It's that stage of the season where everybody is fighting for points and nobody will do anyone else favours."

Kilmarnock will be without the suspended pair of Mark Skilling and Mark Reilly, while Colin McKee is not yet match fit after an ankle injury.

The Ayrshire outfit won 1-0 at Aberdeen in their last match 10 days ago, and the recent signing, Paul Wright, will make his home debut.

"Paul played well at Aberdeen and I'm sure our fans will want to see him in action," said Totten, who had the striker under his managership at St Johnstone. Billy Findlay, a recent signing from Hibernian, will also feature.

Totten watched Hearts being knocked out of the Cup by Airdrie at the weekend and expects them to be dangerous opponents.

"They were bidding to reach a Cup final and it clearly hurt them badly to lose at Hampden. We will have to be up for the job to try and get three points. Our form at Rugby Park has been good this season, so with four of the last six here we want to take advantage of that."

Tommy McLean, the Hearts manager, has asked his players to show character in the wake of a fifth semi-final failure in recent years.

But he has a host of injury problems with Kevin Thomas out, Jim Bett and Brian Hamilton almost certainly out, and Willie Jamieson doubtful with a knee problem.

Airdrie's Kenny Black has received a four-match suspension from the Scottish Football Association, but will be available to play in the Tennents Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on 27 May. Black collected a booking in Saturday's 1-0 semi-final win over his old club, Hearts.

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