Kilmarnock have hit a bump in results in recent weeks. No wins in eight amid a difficult run of fixtures and off field controversies. It’s been a testing time for Steve Clarke, but with Killie still holding a potential European spot, it hasn’t been too damaging.
A big positive for Clarke in recent weeks will be the form of winger Rory McKenzie, who is proving himself to be a candidate for the left winger position once Jordan Jones departs Rugby Park in the summer.
For someone who has made 167 appearances for Killie, it’s perhaps unfair to say he isn’t a first team regular. He’s played over 20 games for the Ayrshire side every season since 2012/13. Despite this, in all that time, he’s never really nailed down a weekly starting position at Rugby Park.
There’s plenty of vacancies in the position whether that be right now or in the summer. Greg Stewart departed in January, Jones leaves for Rangers in the summer and the dependable Chris Burke is 35 now. Clarke will have the chance to bring in reinforcements to that area in the summer and McKenzie has to start turning in performances to nail that starting berth.
McKenzie still has plenty to learn
The 25-year old has lived up that challenge in recent weeks with his performances against Livingston and Motherwell. Despite Killie losing out in West Lothian, the winger was still an effective player. He ran tirelessly all game and caused real problems for the Livi backline. At times he was skipping by three and four players, proving there is natural talent in the winger.
Against Motherwell it was a similar performance, always looking to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Despite the terrible conditions, McKenzie was always driving forward, trying to create chances for Conor McAleny in the middle.
He has been great in recent weeks but he has to start adding end product. In 167 games he has registered just 11 goals and has only scored once with no assists this term. Whilst his work rate has been good, if he doesn’t start adding that killer ball or shot, it’ll be worth nothing.
McKenzie has picked up his game in the past few weeks, but there’s plenty more to be done. He’s proven that he can play at the highest level. Now all he needs are the goals and assists to back it up.
It’s important that he continues his run of form, for if he doesn’t, Clarke will have to look at other wide options in the summer.