Clark has one eye on derby as he gears up for week­end to re­mem­ber

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

THE Kil­marnock side Lee Clark in­her­ited when he suc­ceeded Gary Locke as man­ager last month is em­broiled in a bat­tle to avoid be­ing rel­e­gated or dragged into the end-of­sea­son play-offs.

So a game against a Celtic out­fit which is un­der in­tense pres­sure to win – and so main­tain their bid to land a fifth con­sec­u­tive Premier­ship ti­tle at Rugby Park early this af­ter­noon – should be a daunting prospect.

How­ever, Clark, who was en­cour­aged by the dis­play of his team in their 2-1 de­feat by se­cond-placed Aberdeen at Pit­to­drie seven days ago, firmly be­lieves he could be about to en­joy his best week­end in quite some time.

The for­mer Hud­der­s­field Town, Birm­ing­ham City and Black­pool man­ager is con­fi­dent his side can, de­spite their lowly league po­si­tion, get a re­sult against op­po­nents they have drawn with twice this term.

The for­mer New­cas­tle United player and life­long sup­porter then hopes his beloved home town team can win a Tyne-Wear derby to­mor­row which he rates as the most im­por­tant ever.

United are se­cond bot­tom – but they have ap­pointed Rafa Ben­itez as man­ager and can leapfrog their lo­cal ri­vals and move out of the rel­e­ga­tion places with a vic­tory.

“This could be the best week­end,” said Clark. “We are con­fi­dent we can con­tinue where we left off against Aberdeen and get our­selves a pos­i­tive re­sult and hope­fully a win against Celtic.

“Then I can try and en­joy the lead-up to the game on Sun­day with my two sons, whether that be at St James’s or just in the con­fines of our home. Hope­fully, it will be an­other nice day. Then ev­ery­body can look for­ward.

“I keep go­ing with my su­per­sti­tious head. I thought be­cause I had kept away they would get good re­sults. The cou­ple of times I have been there this sea­son they haven’t got par­tic­u­larly good re­sults. I had the chance to go to the Bournemouth game, but I kept away and that didn’t seem to work.

“There are three fight­ing to not fall into those last two, I think. It is safe to say As­ton Villa are gone. It is quite strange that I have been part of the his­tory of the other three clubs. I was at Nor­wich as as­sis­tant man­ager, I was a player at New­cas­tle and I had a cou­ple of sea­sons at Sun­der­land.

“But ev­ery­one knows the one team I want to fin­ish fourth bot­tom. Un­for­tu­nately, my al­le­giances to those other clubs have to be di­min­ished this time.”

TALK­ING TOON: Kil­marnock man­ager Lee Clark wants a win dou­ble

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