Kyle Vassell free to be Kilmarnock agent of chaos as Derek McInnes reveals striker has 'attacked' pre-season

-Credit: (Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group)
-Credit: (Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group)

Derek McInnes reckons old-school Kyle Vassell now has the freedom to cause more mayhem.

The Kilmarnock captain fought brilliantly last term against the discomfort of a groin issue. But having had summer surgery, Vassell is free and flying ahead of the new campaign. McInnes is delighted with his skipper’s situation and said: “Vass is only 31 but we have asked a lot of him in his time with us. He’s come back pre-season and he just looks free, training more naturally and at ease. He has attacked the work.

"He had a bit of a thigh thing after the game in Marbella but we rested him for a couple of days. He didn’t play against TNS as a precaution but Vassell is a bit old-school in the sense there are players who rule themselves out of games on a Monday and you are thinking, ‘There’s still plenty of time’. Vassell always rules himself in, even when others might rule themselves out with what he’s had to deal with, so we’re hoping with the surgery he’s had he’ll be even better.”

McInnes has built a strong attacking unit with Vassell leading the charge. Last term’s top scorer Marley Watkins is back, having signed a two-year deal, and Bruce Anderson is in from Livingston. Innes Cameron and young gun Bobby Wales are also on the scene and McInnes likes what he sees. He said: “We’re hoping we can carry even more of a threat.

“We have real high hopes for Bobby. He had a terrific loan at Alloa and has shown up arguably as good as anybody in pre-season. It’s good having that kind of five. We have young Zander Craik who will go out on loan. So that’s five at the top end, plus good wide players who provide plenty of crosses.”

Wales is impressing the boss but McInnes won’t put pressure on the youngster by tagging him as the new big hope. The manager said: “No, it’s wrong to put that on him. Bobby has scored goals at youth level, reserve level and had a successful loan. It’s important we have a recognition of the levels and what is expected.

“It’s difficult to lead the line at centre-forward in the Premiership when you’re so young. But we think he has so many attributes. He has good size, he’s a good mover and so smooth with the ball. His runs, his touch, his intelligence, his feet and he can score goals.

“He has a lot to learn in terms of having a bit more maturity in his game at times. There are things he can still learn but he’s going the right way and it’s important we just allow him to get there in his own time.

“But it’s important for us as a club to get the next one and we have got young 16-year-olds like Archie Traynor and Cole Burke who have been training with the first team.

“It’s our job as a club to get academy players into the full-time environment. Once they reach that, can we get them exposed and stretched and into the first team as quickly as possible.”