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Lessons learned even in defeat for Irvine as his loan deal winds down

IF you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost.

It sounds like Jackson Irvine, the Kilmarnock defender, might have been listening to some dusty audiotapes of travelling Mississippi salesman Hilary 'Zig' Ziglar. Or perhaps not.

He echoed the eccentric motivational speaker's didactic yesterday, though, when he insisted that his loan spell at Kilmarnock has been beneficial to his development as a player, despite spending most of his time watching his own goalkeeper pick the ball out of the net.

The young Australian moved to Rugby Park in the summer on a short-term deal in a bid to gain first-team experience. But Kilmarnock have endured a ropey start to the campaign and sit second bottom of the SPFL Premiership with just two meagre victories.

But Irvine insists he has picked up plenty to take back to Celtic Park when his loan spell fizzles out in January. "This is my first season in senior football and it was going to be difficult," he said. "To adjust from playing against boys to playing against men is always hard. I've played in pre-season friendlies for Celtic but you can't really compare that to competitive first-team games.

"Sometimes it can seem like, 'what was the point when you lost the majority of your games?' But whether you are winning games or losing games, you are still playing in those games and you can learn despite the result. You can learn from the negatives and you can learn from the positives."

Kilmarnock take on fellow strugglers Ross County this afternoon, and defender Scott Boyd believes that embarking on a similar charge to last season - when they gatecrashed the top six after a late-season blitz - is not out of the question.

"We had a tough start but we still have a long way to go," he said. "We have a lot of quality in the changing room but there are now a lot of games coming up with the busy festive period and that's a chance for us to move up a few positions and get to a place where Ross County should be.

"It's a lot like this time last season. We were down in the lower positions at this stage but things changed so quickly. In this division, a couple of results can move you up a few rungs and that's what we want to do again."

Perhaps both struggling sides need to keep in mind another nugget of Ziglar's buoyant wisdom: sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.

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