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Tommy Wright: 'Keeping Kilmarnock up would rank as high as anything'

Tommy Wright: 'Keeping Kilmarnock up would rank as high as anything'
© Reuters
Killie take on Dundee in a two-legged play-off.

Tommy Wright says rescuing Kilmarnock's 28-year top-flight run would rank as highly as his St Johnstone successes.

The former Perth boss has gone down in McDiarmid Park history after leading Saints to their first major trophy win by lifting the Scottish Cup in 2014.

The Northern Irishman also secured five top-six finishes, guiding the club into Europe three times too during his seven years in charge.

But he reckons keeping Killie up this season would be just as impressive as any of those feats.

Wright inherited a side that had won just two games out of 11 when he took over in February.

They are now on a run of just two defeats in the last 14 but face one last major obstacle before they are safe, with their two-legged play-off final with Dundee kicking off at Dens Park on Thursday night before Monday's Rugby Park return.

"I think it would rank as high as anything," said Wright on the prospect of keeping Kilmarnock up. "It's a different set of circumstances I've had to come into. Usually I'm in the top six.

"So it will rank highly because of all the loses that the team had had before that.

"We've now managed to give ourselves an opportunity now in the play-offs to stay up."

Wright and Dens boss James McPake have both had their attempts at mind games this week in an attempt to ramp up the pressure.

McPake says the Ayrshiremen have it all to lose as they look to protect top-flight status dating back to 1993, but his Killie counterpart reckons Dundee are a club who really should be aiming for a return to life among the big boys.

But, while Wright hopes to heap strain on this week's opponents, he has spent the last few days trying to shield his players from the hype surrounding the build-up.

"The game is important for both clubs," insisted Wright. "Dundee are a big club, a massive club, who probably should be in the Premiership.

"The pressure is equal because the prize is the same for both teams. We're under no more pressure than they are.

"They have been in the Championship now for a couple of seasons.

"It's important – it's important that we stay in the league and we've got to make sure we do that.

"But it's also important that we have the players in the right frame of mind and take away the enormity of the situation. That's what we've tried to do.

"No-one can turn round and say we've played like a team struggling at the bottom of the table.

"We've dominated possession, we've created lot of chances, we've played in a certain style too.

"We haven't gone long, which teams tend to do when they feel under pressure.

"But both teams are under pressure. It's two big games for both clubs.

"We've tried to play it down, which is difficult at times. But we want everyone to go in relaxed and do what we believe they can do.

"In all the time we've been here, even with the position we're in, we haven't had crisis meetings. We've just tried to be as positive as we can with the players and it's worked to the extent that performances have improved and we look a really good side going forward."

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A general shot of a Premier League football ahead of the Premier League clash between Everton and West Ham United at Goodison Park on October 30, 2016
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