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Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke wary of Rangers backlash

© SNS Group / Ross MacDonald)Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke

STEVE CLARKE will brief Kilmarnock to beware of a Rangers backlash at Ibrox.

Rangers are smarting after being knocked out of the Betfred Cup semi-final by Aberdeen at Hampden Park on Sunday, but their home form this season has been impressive.

Rangers are unbeaten in 11 games at Ibrox and have won all four Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures in front of their own supporters, scoring 14 goals and conceding two.

Clarke, whose first game in the technical area as Killie boss was a 1-1 draw in Govan last October, noted the improvement under Steven Gerrard, who took over at Rangers in the summer, especially at home.

The former West Brom manager said ahead of Wednesday night’s game at Ibrox: “They have been through a couple of changes of manager and certainly made a lot of changes personnel-wise in the summer.

“They have shown with some if not all of the performances this season that they are a much-improved team.

“Domestically they have been OK, they have had some difficult games, they have had some games where they maybe should have won and didn’t.

“But there have been some games at Ibrox especially where they have been very strong and just blown the opposition away so we have to be on our guard for that.

“I expect a reaction from any team that loses a game before we play them.

“You always expect them to bounce back and Rangers will be no different to any other team.”

Kilmarnock are five points behind leaders Hearts, with four wins and a draw in their last five games.

Clarke insists the Rugby Park side have improved in all areas in the last year.

He said: “We have a stronger squad now, certainly we have a team that believes in themselves in a little bit more.

“That is not to take anything away from the players who went to Ibrox last year and put in a really gutsy performance and managed to nick a 1-1 draw.

“Not just in the belief, the skill level, the quality that these players have shown over the last 12 months.

“The ones that are still here from when I came into the club are still very important for me.

“We have managed to add five or six quality players to the group which makes you better.

“We have no reason not to be confident. It has been a good spell of matches for us.

“We are going into what I would probably class as a more difficult run of fixtures, with all due respect to the teams we have just played.

“We play Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts in the next three games, three tough games but three games we look forward to.”