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Football: ERIC'S PSYCHED OUT BY JOKER JON; Gould pulls a fast one to leave Killie new boy in right sweat Kilmarnock v Hibernian.

Byline: Exclusive By David McCarthy

FRENCHMAN Eric Skora took six hours to drive from Preston to sign for Kilmarnock yesterday after taking directions from Jonathan Gould.

The 22-year-old right-sided midfielder joked he would never ask the ex-Celtic and Scotland keeper for help again.

Skora took twice as long to make the journey as he should have done and arrived with barely an hour to spare to register with the SPL in time for today's home clash with Hibs.

He said: ''They were the worst directions ever. I think the route he gave took me via Iceland. I also got stuck in traffic and because of the bad weather I didn't drive fast.

''Still, it is better to arrive in one piecer at her than two. But if you ever want directions somewhere don't ask Jonathan.''

Skora told howhehad to battle with Preston boss Craig Brown to be allowed to leave on loan.

He added: ''I have been at Preston for two years and I've been a regular but this season the gafferhas changed the system and that is why I haven't been playing.

''There were opportunities to go on loan to Second and First Division clubs but Craig wantedme to stay.

''He then said, 'If you are going on loan I would rather you go to a club where you get some experience'.

''He and Billy Davies are delighted I've gone to Kilmarnock. It's the type of club I needed because they play against the likes of Rangers and Celtic.''

Flurry The right-sided midfielder has scored six goals in eight appearances for Preston reserves thi s season.

He added: ''I have signed for three months until the end of the season and then who knows?

''My contract at Preston has two-and-a-half years to go but first I must concentrate on doing well for Kilmarnock.''

Killie general manager Davie Mackinnon was relieved to finally have Skora sign up after a flurry of activity at Rugby Park.

He said: ''We missed out on Giorgi Nemsadze because of his demands while Greg Shields completed his move to Dunfermline. We also missed out on David Lilley at Partick Thistle because they wanted a fee.

''Then Eric arrived with just an hour to spare for the SPL registration deadline. But he's here and will go into the squad for the Hibs game.''

Boss Jim Jefferies was keen on Nemsadze and said: ''While Giorgi would like to stay in Scotland, he has a good offer on the table from a club back home in Georgia.

''I think his wage demands could only be met by Celtic or Rangers in Scotland but it was worths peaking to him to see if he'd be interested in joining us. He would have been but he is looking for more money than we can afford.''

Killie have told keeper Colin Meldrum he won't have his contract renewed in the summer and they are hoping to replace him with Dunfermline No.1 Marco Ruitenbeek.

Jefferies hasgiven Meldrum, who hasspent 10 yearsat Rugby Park, the chance to find a new club in the transfer window and his move for the Pars keeper will depend onhow quickly a deal canbedone.

Challenge The Rugby Park boss said: ''I've told Colin if he can find a club during the window he can go but I don't have a problem if he wants to see out his contract.

''As for Ruitenbeek, he is an experienced goalkeeper and he is one we are looking at. It's got nothing to do with the Greg Shields deal that's a different situation.

''Dunfermline have been keen onhim for a while and the lad lives through there so it suits him to go.''

Killie add Martin Hardie to their squad for the visit of Hibs and Jefferies added: ''We played well against Dunfermline last weekand I am looking for more of the same, although I'd like us to take more of the chances we are creating.''

CAPTION(S):

TOP SKORA: Killie`s new signing Eric has a goal-getting name on his shirt
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 24, 2004
Words:671
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