TOMMY WRIGHT has urged his Kilmarnock players to grab their playing opportunities with both hands to ensure their shirt belongs to them going forward.
The Northern Irishman will make numerous changes to his starting XI for Friday’s SPFL Trust Trophy match against Queen’s Park.
Killie suffered their second defeat of the league season last week as Raith Rovers ran out 3-1 winners in Ayrshire.
And while it may seem like an easy decision to change the team up off the back of such a disappointing result, Wright insists he’d already planned a much different side for the third-round tie.
Admitting it will still be a strong selection, he said: “When you lose a game you just have to make sure you win the next one, irrespective of the competition it is.
“We are looking forward to the game, we are at home and we want to progress and this is a perfect opportunity to do that.
“We aren’t sitting here thinking we are massive favourites or anything.
“Queen’s Park are a good side with a lot of experience and it will be a challenge but our main aim is just to win the game.
“There will be some changes to the team for this game. It’s important for a number of different reasons.
“We don’t have a reserve team and the lack of games we can get for the players who aren’t playing, it is important they get game time.
“I have to look at the overall picture and it is important to freshen it up a little bit.
“Some of them have been waiting patiently for a chance and doing well in training. They need an opportunity to show what they can do.
“It might give me a selection problem for the next game. They need to go and grasp it.
“The ones who have played most games have done really well.
“It gives people a chance to put down a marker and if it is not for the Dunfermline game, it could be further down the line.
“We will make some changes but whatever team we put out, I’m not making changes just to make changes, I believe they will be strong enough to win the game.”
Killie’s U18s earned a terrific 4-2 win over Celtic during the week. Skipper of the side – David Watson – was involved last time out versus Falkirk.
While Wright has no worries about picking the academy lads, he insists he needs to look after the first team pool.
He added: “I have got to look after my first-team squad as well, a few of them aren’t getting games.
“David is doing really well, he trains with us every day as does Charlie McArthur, Steven Warnock and Tomas Brindley who’s a little bit older. I see them every day, I have no qualms about using them if needed but there needs to be a balance between that and the first-team guys.”
The sides last met 18-months ago in the Scottish Cup under Alex Dyer – with Killie running riot 6-0.
Chris Burke racked up all SIX assists that day. He and Rory McKenzie are the only two players who remain at the club from that day.
Touching upon the upheaval, Wright said: “There has been a lot of change, but it has been needed.
“There had to be changes after relegation, maybe some of the players who were here for a long time just needed a change too.
“But the new squad is doing well at the minute, we had a setback on Saturday but I wasn’t the one saying we would run away with this league.
“I knew how difficult it would be, we are going to have bumps on the road along the way.”