First Team

Kilmarnock 1-2 Heart of Midlothian

Friday 1st February 2019, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Rugby Park

Match Preview

Team News
 
Uche Ikpeazu (foot) is not far from a return but Friday will come too soon for him – manager Craig Levein has targeted the Auchinleck Talbot game for the striker’s comeback.
 
The manager also confirmed that Craig Wighton (ankle) will also be out until February, joining Peter Haring (hernia) on the sidelines.
 
Kilmarnock will be without striker Kris Boyd after the appeal to overturn his red card failed. The 35-year-old was sent off last weekend against Aberdeen for a bad challenge on Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie.
 
Killie were without Ross Millen (foot) and Iain Wilson for the game against the Dons, and the latter has now joined Queen of the South of loan. Greg Kiltie has also moved to Greenock Morton on loan until the end of the season.

Two new signings could be available to make their debuts for Steve Clarke's side. Alex Bruce joined Killie through the week from Wigan Athletic until the end of the year and former Everton youngster Conor McAleny has also joined on loan from Fleetwood Town. 

Youssouf Mulumbu was a late Deadline Day arrival from Celtic and could make his second debut for the club this evening. He joins on a six-month loan deal until the end of the season.


Form
 
Hearts have won four of their last five games, picking up a 2-0 win over St Johnstone last Saturday.
 
Goals from Marcus Godinho and Callumn Morrison gave Craig Levein’s side the win as they leapfrogged St Johnstone into fifth place.
 
Kilmarnock have also won four of their last five, drawing their last game with Aberdeen 0-0. Aberdeen dominated the game but Killie held on for the point, despite Kris Boyd’s red card.
 
Killie haven’t lost since early December when they were beaten 5-1 against Celtic in Glasgow. Goals from Odsonne Edouard, Mikael Lustig, Ryan Christie and a double from James Forrest killed off Steve Clarke’s side, with Eamonn Brophy’s second-half penalty nothing but a consolation.
 
Head to Head
 
This will be the 268th competitive meeting of the two sides, and the 135th at Rugby Park. Kilmarnock have won 59 of those meetings on home turf, with Hearts picking up 38 wins away from home.
 
Hearts have won two of the last six, with both wins coming at Rugby Park and both finishing 1-0. They most recent came in August and was the third league match of this season, when Uche Ikpeazu headed in a late winner for the Jambos.
 
What Craig Said:
 
"I was so chuffed with John Souttar's performance on Saturday and to have him back in the team makes me feel good. Naisy's back, we've brought Vanecek in, we brought Conor Shaughnessy in, we've got Uche and Peter coming back from injury very shortly and I've been really, really happy with them.

"I'm hoping they can all stay fit but you never know, we might lose a couple between now and the end of the season through injury but we still should have enough strength in depth to get us back to our early season form.

"In the calendar year, Stevie's record is better than Celtic. That is a remarkable achievement. If he does that in the football year then he wins the league. We shouldn't underestimate that in any way, shape or form and obviously, playing against them, I know what we're facing.

"This will be a really tough match for us. We've got one win a piece. We went down there early season and won 1-0. They came up to our place and robbed us and they won 1-0 as well. It'll be interesting to see how this goes."