AMBITIOUS Kilmarnock FC have arguably pulled off their biggest coup since signing Tommy Burns by appointing Saltcoats man Steve Clarke as their new manager.

The 54-year-old will find plenty of home comforts as he returns after 30 years in England with strong family connections. His older brother Paul played at Rugby Park for 13 years, younger brother Michael is a fan of the club and wife Karen is from the area.

Former Scotland defender Clarke was officially appointed on Saturday after spells as a manager at West Brom and Reading and was previously assistant at Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool.

He watched his side beat Partick Thistle 2-0 from the stand with caretaker boss Paul McDonald in charge on Saturday.

Now he hopes to help Killie become a top six team again.

Clarke is relishing the challenge and said: "I would put Kilmarnock definitely in the top six of clubs. It will be a long road but that's where we aim to be. I've signed a contract for two and a half years and intend to be here for that period. I remember from years back coming here as a young boy to watch my brother Paul. At that time it was always a club that was competitive in the top flight in Scotland."

He is setting out to develop young taleny and said: "You have to find a way to encourage young players. I brought Lukaku through."

Clarke faces a tough debut as his team head to Ibrox to face Rangers a week on Wednesday.

But he is not fazed by the challenge and said: "I don't think there are any easy games. The team had a confidence-boosting victory at the weekend. We will be well prepared and can cause an upset."