Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall is relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with his former Dundee United captain at Firhill this evening.
Derek McInnes has been appointed as Kilmarnock’s new manager, a month on from the club’s decision to sack Tommy Wright following a run of four defeats in seven games.
The ex-Aberdeen boss, who had been out of the game since last March after his eight-year stint in the North East came to an end, began his Rugby Park reign with a 2-0 win over Queen of the South last weekend.
McInnes has also drafted in his old Pittodrie backroom team, with assistant Tony Docherty and recently-departed Falkirk boss Paul Sheerin re-joining the coaching staff.
Ahead of Friday night’s televised Championship encounter between the two promotion hopefuls, McCall insists his side are in for a tough test now that the Ayrshire side have the right manager in place.
He said: “It’s going to be a hard game, of course. I know the guys who have been put in charge.
“Derek was my captain at Dundee United and I took Tony (Docherty) to Dundee United from Falkirk. They’ve a proven track record of doing really well.
“It will be a hard game for us, but it will be a hard game for Kilmarnock too.
“I don’t think Derek gets the credit he deserves for what he did at Aberdeen. Let’s see in the next eight years if Hibs, Hearts and other clubs that size can finish in the top three every year for eight years running.
“Kilmarnock have got a proper manager in but that doesn’t mean they are going to win a game of football.”
The Jags boss provided a transfer update on striker Zak Rudden, who has been subject to strong interest from Motherwell and St Johnstone in recent days.
He stated: “There’s no real update. He scored a good goal against Hamilton last week and has trained really well. He’s in contention to start against Kilmarnock.
“I believe there are a number of people coming her to watch the game, so we’ll see what happens after that.
“There has been four, five, maybe six bids but nothing even remotely like what we would be interested in.”
McCall opted against extending Jake Hastie’s loan deal until the end of the season as the winger returned to Ibrox earlier in the week having failed to make a significant impact during his time in Maryhill.
The Thistle boss admits his decision was based largely on the impressive form of his side during the first half of the season.
He said: “Jake had a couple of knocks throughout his time here and he was going to play in a SPFL Trust Trophy game but he wasn’t allowed to because he had played for Rangers B team, so it just didn’t work out.
“We’ve only been beaten once in 14 games as well, so it’s been hard for guys like him to get into the team.
“Sometimes you can play with two out-and-out wingers like (Scott) Tiffoney and Jake but I think sometimes you need to balance things up a wee bit.
“Tiffoney’s form has been outstanding recently. His performance last weekend, you don’t often see a winger give a full-back a difficult time like that nowadays. It was great to watch.”
Midfielder Robbie Crawford became the latest addition to McCall’s squad but he revealed the club have faced several challenges in their pursuit of further signings.
He admitted: “We got Robbie in the door but the two players I was ready to press the button on at the start of the window were with a view to long-term contracts and that’s been knocked in the head now.
“We’ve still got a couple of weeks to work on things. It’s just tough at the moment, we need to do a lot of the groundwork without seeing people, which is very unusual.
“We were due to go down to England on December 13th for a couple of days to look at a few players we it just wasn’t possible to do that.
“They’ve got to be players that can come in and have a real impact short-term and a lot of the time that is a toss of the coin, so we’ll see what happens.”