Kyle smiling after double
Jefferies backing striker to be big hit for Kilmarnock
Last Updated: 15/08/09 7:00pm
Kyle: praise from boss
Jim Jefferies believes Kevin Kyle can be a huge hit after the Kilmarnock striker scored twice in the 3-0 win over Hamilton.
Manager Jefferies was delighted to see his gamble in fielding the striker pay off, as captain Kyle volleyed home an impressive opener in the first half and then topped that with a spectacular strike minutes after the interval.
Jefferies claims Kyle can fire Kilmarnock to a top-six finish if he maintains the rich vein of scoring form which began once he arrived at Rugby Park midway through last season.
Jefferies said: "Kevin did all the hard work in Italy [at the club's pre-season training camp] but has had no games for us, and if he can do that from scratch then he's probably going to get more.
"The second goal was a stunner, but he's capable of doing that and he showed last season what he can do with the right ball and build-up play - we took a wee gamble in playing him today, and it paid off.
"When we last got into the top six, we had somebody who scored 19 goals for us, so if Kevin's going to get 19 or 20 then we'll be in with a good chance of doing that.
"Hamilton had changes in their team and a couple of players out through suspension so we had to take advantage of that.
"You know things are going to be a bit rusty to start with but we were always plugging away and I thought we could have been a couple of goals ahead before we were."
Jefferies was also impressed by Kyle's strike partner Connor Sammon, and dedicated the win to the club's former player and coach Gary Locke, who had to be released from his role during the summer.
The former Hearts manager said: "It was great of him to phone us before the game today and it's a pity he wasn't here to witness that performance, but we wanted to dedicate that one to Gary who unfortunately can't be with us.
"Connor came in last year and was raw but he's had a year to work on bits and pieces and knuckle down, and in pre-season he's been a different player.
"Even if David Fernandez and Mark Burchill had been fit I would have started with him because he's been outstanding in training and games and it's great to see him get that confidence as he's willing, works hard and showed some really good neat touches.
"We'll enjoy the victory but we know there are another 37 games to go so we'll hopefully build on this."
Hamilton manager Billy Reid, who handed starting debuts to six players, noted his disappointment at the nature of the opening goal after what he saw as a positive start.
The Accies manager derived plenty of encouragement from the performance in spite of the result, which was completed by a third goal from Jamie Hamill.
He said: "The first goal for us was really poor - he volleyed it in from six yards but to get a free shot isn't good enough as there was nobody within three yards of him, and that was a big disappointment.
"It was testing with so many new players but I thought we started very well and that for the first 20 minutes we were slightly the better side. After starting the game not too badly I thought we were slightly unlucky to go in 1-0 down.
"We had a chance when we came out at the start of the second half but didn't dealt with the first ball and Kevin hit it from 28 yards into the postage stamp. It was a smashing finish and there's nothing you can do about that."