November 3, 2012
Johnson eager to keep his place
Team Stat Comparison
|Kilmarnock||Inverness Caledonian Thistle|
|Goals for *||1.3||1.5|
|Goals against *||1.5||1.7|
|Last 5 home||L-L-L-L-D||L-W-D-W-D|
|Last 5 away||W-L-W-L-D||L-L-L-W-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Kilmarnock | Inverness Caledonian Thistle|
Lee Johnson is determined to help Kilmarnock build on their memorable victory over Celtic in a bid to remain in manager Kenny Shiels' plans.
The midfielder has struggled to hold down a regular place in the top team this season but was back in the side for last week's 2-0 victory at Parkhead.
He believes the whole team earned pass marks on that occasion and hopes another impressive display against Inverness will allow him to hold onto the jersey.
Johnson said: "Of course it's frustrating when you're not playing.
"But I'm fully behind it here, I love it here and I'm very keen to do well.
"I've got the shirt at the moment and, the way I look at it, if we keep winning and keep performing, I'll retain that shirt.
"I was pleased with the whole team ethic and performance against Celtic and I was part of that, which is nice.
"There is no better feeling than when you put a shift in and everybody around you has as well and you get a great team win like that.''
With Rangers now plying their trade in the Irn-Bru Third Division, many believed Celtic would simply cruise to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title this season.
But Johnson believes the rest of the teams have shown they do possess enough quality to ensure an exciting competition.
He said: "Coming up from England, I don't think the gap is as big as everyone thinks it is up here.
"There are a lot of good players at the other non-Old Firm clubs.
"As we have seen this year, no-one is guaranteed three points. There are a lot of coupon killers.
"We know, on our day, we can beat anyone in this division. On the flip side, we know we have to be on it too because other teams have quality in this league.
"Without being disrespectful to Celtic, they do have some fantastic players, but there is not much world-class, like there might have been in previous decades and seasons.
"Having played against quite a lot of the players before, yes, they are great players but they are beatable.
"If you can get a team spirit, the fans behind you and that work rate for each other, any team can do well this year and that's what we are aiming to do.''
Kilmarnock could be without Cillian Sheridan, who was on the scoresheet in last week`s win over Celtic. He is struggling with a virus ahead of the meeting at Rugby Park.
James Fowler returns from a leg knock but William Gros misses out through injury.
Inverness manager Terry Butcher is predicting another high-scoring encounter when his team meet fellow Old Firm conquerors.
The two Ayrshire meetings between the teams last season produced a total of 16 goals and Caley Thistle continued their impressive form in front of goal with a 3-0 Scottish Communities League Cup win over Rangers on Wednesday.
Inverness are the SPL top scorers with 23 goals and have found the net in all 14 of their games in all competitions this season.
But Kenny Shiels` Kilmarnock team are also on a high after beating Celtic.
Butcher said: "We certainly enjoy going there. Kilmarnock give you a chance to play and there`s always plenty of goals.
"It`s a good test because they have had a great result at Parkhead. It`s ironic that the two teams who beat the Old Firm in a week face each other.''
Butcher added: "The last 30 matches between the teams have produced no 0-0 draws.
"I don`t think Kenny Shiels or myself will be going out for a 0-0 draw the way both teams play and set up with the philosophy of trying to score more goals than the opposition.
"Last year unfortunately one of our supporters passed away at the match. We lost 4-3 and Jonny Hayes was sent off and Dean Shiels scored a hat-trick so there was plenty going on.
"The 6-3 game is the one we remember.
"The way both sides set out to attack and score goals is a credit to both clubs.''
Butcher is still revelling in his side`s Ibrox triumph.
"It`s a lovely feeling walking around the city getting my messages and a lot of people are congratulating me,'' the former England captain said.
"It`s a wonderful feeling and we have got a semi-final in January to look forward to.
"But we can put that to bed and concentrate on Kilmarnock.
"The lads are fresh and feel nice and healthy, when you reach a semi-final it gets rid of the tiredness very quickly.''
Inverness have no fresh injuries. Richie Foran made his comeback from a knee injury in the final moments of Wednesday's win over Rangers but the club captain is not ready to start.
Long-term absentees Simon King (ankle), Chris Hogg (knee) and Nick Ross (shoulder) are still out.