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Football: KIDMARNOCK; Injuries force Jefferies to field youngest side in history.

Byline: By Colin Duncan c.duncan@dailyrecord.co.uk

KILMARNOCK are set to field the youngest team in their history against Dunfermline this afternoon.

Jim Jefferies' squad has been decimated by injury in recent weeks leaving him with just 10 fit first-team players.

Killie struggled to field a team against Hearts in the Scottish Cup replay defeat at Rugby Park in midweek.

And the situation was exacerbated when Allan Johnston and Simon Ford picked up further knocks in the 3-1 defeat.

Jefferies, right, insists the crisis has become so bad he has little alternative but to field a number of untried youngsters against Dunfermline today.

The Killie boss said: 'I don't think any of our injured players will be back, added to the fact that a couple of others are also struggling.

'As a result Kilmarnock will field the youngest side ever in a Premier League game.

'On the bench we will also have three youngsters who have never been involved with the first team before.

'I just hope the supporters appreciate that there's a few inexperienced boys and really get behind them.'

Jefferies insists the injury crisis is the worst he's known in two decades as a manger although he's confident his young guns will give it their best shot.

He said: 'It's a great opportunity for them and hopefully the young lads can show they're capable of winning the game.

'The door is open and I'm hoping they will show me that they're worthy of consideration every week.

'When you have a decent sized squad you can handle injuries a bit better but we've had to cut down numbers here in the past few years.

'The fact that we are missing so many experienced players doesn't help either.'

Yet the omens on a Killie victory might be better than the state of their squad suggests as Dunfermline were reduced to the bare bones in the corresponding fixture at East End Park in November and ran out 4-1 winners.

Jefferies added: 'They had a lot of injuries but beat us comfortably so hopefully we can emulate that.

'This is a huge came for us in terms of achieving a top-six finish as we are just two points behind Motherwell.

'While the situation is not ideal I'm sure the lads will give their all towards the cause.

'I know how much the Killie fans enjoying seeing youngsters coming through so with their backing hopefully we can get the right result.'
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 19, 2005
Words:410
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