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Johnston: 'Eremenko is coming over . . . we'd be delighted to sign him'

Alexei Eremenko told Kilmarnock fans in 2011 that if he had to leave them - which he did at the end of that season - then he would be happy to return someday and finish his career at Rugby Park.

It seemed like a platitude, of course, the sort of sound bite blathered out to briefly warm the hearts of supporters.

But it has emerged this week the Finnish midfielder, now 30 years old, is in talks with the club to complete the return he once promised. Eremenko was terrific in his year-long spell in Ayrshire, and finished the season on the shortlist for Player of the Year.

"He is coming over," confirmed Allan Johnston, the Kilmarnock manager. "I don't know if he'll train with us, but we are going to speak to him. We'd be delighted to get someone of that quality in the squad. But nothing's finalised, it's still very early stages. He's the kind of player who would spark the rest of the players as well.

"I know how much he loved it the last time, so hopefully that helps persuade him as well. I've not seen him recently, I've just seen clips. But he's a quality player, isn't he? If he's fit, I'm sure he'd be a great addition to the team."

Kilmarnock should wrap up the signing of the young Latvian defender Vitalijs Maksimenko - "he can play at left-back or left centre-half" - to provide cover now that Darren Barr is unlikely to play again this season, but it is perhaps the fate of another player which could shape the club's season. The likely promotion of Barry Ferguson to Blackpool manager is inevitably to be accompanied by swirling rumours of a bid for his old Rangers team-mate, Kris Boyd.

"I'm not surprised by that because Boydy's a top player and I'm sure he could play at a lot higher level as well," admitted Johnston. "We want to keep our best players. He's a real leader and he'll bring our young players on as well. I know how much he loves it here, enjoys his football here. But you never know . . ."

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