Killie trip signals return to action

After their weekend fixture with Hamilton fell foul of the ‘Beast from the East’, Saints return to league action tonight with a visit to Kilmarnock. It's the first of two away matches in four days with a Tayside derby at Dens Park on Saturday.

Widespread snow across the country denied Saints the opportunity to bounce back from defeat to Rangers last midweek as their Saturday clash with the Accies was postponed.

However, with fixtures coming thick and fast for Saints at present, the extended rest may ultimately hold them in good stead for a tough trip to the west coast.

The bad weather has led to Saints training at Scotland's Performance Centre in order to prepare for the Killie clash and the artificial pitch at the Oriam has allowed Tommy Wright’s squad to get to grips with a playing surface similar to that at Rugby Park.

Scott Tanser will likely be the only player sidelined in recent games that will return for the game. Steven McLean, although fit, will miss out due to the artificial pitch.

Saints currently sit in eighth place, seven points adrift of Killie but, crucially, have games in hand on Motherwell and Hearts above. If Saints can build some momentum, a top six finish is still very much achievable.

Kilmarnock’s season has been rejuvenated since Steve Clarke took charge of the team in October. Killie have only suffered three defeats during his reign and also secured a 1-0 win over table toppers Celtic.

This strong run has saw the Ayrshire side surge up the Premiership table from potential relegation candidates to strong top six contenders. Killie currently lie in sixth place but, similarly to Saints, hold games in hand on teams around them.

It's one win apiece when it comes to the pair's previous two encounters so far this campaign. After Saints snatched a 2-1 victory at Rugby Park on the opening day of the season, Kilmarnock returned the favour with the same winning scoreline at McDiarmid Park in early December.

Kick off at Rugby Park is scheduled for 7.45pm with Willie Collum the man in charge of the action and Saints fans will be in the Chadwick Stand (behind the goal). Match preview by Gary Petersen

Gate prices: Adults £20; Concessions (>65, U21 & FTE) £15; Under 16 £5