January. For many football fans, it is the bastion of hope. Will it bring that clinical finisher that the team have been crying out for? Will we finally sign that rugged defender to shore us up at the back? Will our acquisitions then push us on up the league?
Alas, for football fans of a Scottish persuasion, January is a far more worrying time. The hope experienced by many is replaced by fear. A gnawing concern that you will lose your star man, that eats away at you every time you load up your sports website of choice. For Kilmarnock fans, there is one potential headline that is giving us all sleepless nights:
Kris Boyd has proved all the cynics wrong since returning in stripes, and his all-round game is vastly improved. He has said in interviews that he owes a lot of that transformation to the UEFA Pro-Licence that he’s working towards, and that he now realises that scoring a goal can’t make up for a poor performance in a manager’s eyes. Goals are still his forte of course, and having netted twelve times already this season, he is attracting interest from England. His spell at Middlesbrough may have been a disaster but whilst at Nottingham Forest, Boyd scored six times in ten appearances. A very healthy record for that level of football.
And it is Kris’ old manager, Billy Davies, that is reportedly wanting to break Killie hearts by returning him to the City Ground. Whether Boyd would want to leave is up for discussion, as he has publicly stated that he enjoys being a regular part of his daughter’s lives again, as he hasn’t uprooted them for his moves to Turkey and to the MLS. He could of course feel that he has something to prove in England, with many commentators ignoring his Forest stint and labelling him a failure based on his time at the Riverside Stadium alone.
Another bonus to staying at Kilmarnock would be the guaranteed first-team football every week. That has aided Boyd’s overall fitness levels, and culminated in a return to the Scotland squad that travelled to Norway in November. With his goalscoring record (currently, and previously) and his scintillating form for Kilmarnock, it would be a surprise if he isn’t included in Strachan’s squad to take on Poland in March. And that may well prove the deciding factor in him staying the season at Rugby Park.
Elsewhere in the squad, manager Allan Johnston has released Gabriel Reuben, Rabiu Ibrahim, Kyle Jacobs and Mark Stewart in order to free up some funds; and has extended the loan deals of Jackson Irvine and Michael Gardyne with Celtic and Dundee United. The squad is missing a defender or two, with Darren Barr out for a further two months and Ismael Bouzid struggling to prove his fitness levels are up-to-scratch, so we should expect some movement in that area. Blackburn defender Yann Songo’o had been training with Kilmarnock, but signed for play-off rivals Ross County on loan at the weekend. A move to secure Hamilton youngster Ziggy Gordon has been discussed, and ex-Accies defender David Elebert had been on trial last month, but nobody has signed yet this window.
We have a decent squad at Rugby Park, that should be much higher up the table than the eighth place we currently occupy, and a lot of that is down to the style of play implemented by Allan Johnston, but that is another topic for another day (stay tuned folks). If we can keep Kris Boyd in Ayrshire and add cover in defence, then I have no doubts that we should comfortably avoid finishing in the relegation play-off position. Should Boyd leave however, and with seventeen year-old Robbie Muirhead and seventeen-stone William Gros as our only two recognised strikers, we could be in for some worrying times in the second half of the season.