THE education of Kris Boyd's game at Rugby Park faces a home examination as Walter Smith ponders the striker's graduation to the full Scotland squad next year.

Smith yesterday confirmed Boyd as one of five Kilmarnock players included in his Future squad for the friendly against Poland next Tuesday. The 22year-old is the leading scorer in the Bank of Scotland Premierleague with 12 goals and is one of the few realistic candidates to make the step up to full honours when the March friendly with Switzerland comes around.

Boyd is thoroughly deserving of the recognition after a succession of incisive performances sharpened, to no small extent, by the guidance of Jim Jefferies. The Kilmarnockmanager spent much of last season urging the club's most valuable asset to learn from the allround game of Celtic's John Hartson and Chris Sutton, the SPL's supreme target men, and has been delighted with Boyd's absorption of that advice.

"In the past some people might have said he is lazy, " said Jefferies. "No way is that the case - he trains as hard as anyone - but there were some things he could improve.

"We said that to him and pointed out the way the likes of Hartson and Sutton use their physical attributes. They put defenders under pressure all the time and link play by making themselves available.

"Kris has everything you need to do that and recently he has shown signs of big improvement in those areas.

"He had a couple of chances with the Under-21s but was a young player then and has since become a better player. In our last four or five matches, he has been excellent. Not just in goalscoring but in his overall performances."

Jefferies hasn't been forced into a role of nagging fatherfigure as he revealed Boyd now sets himself high standards.

"When we were at Tynecastle a wee while back, Kris was really disappointed in his own performance, " said Jefferies. "He just never got going and we took him off. It looks as if he shook himself down after that and since then he's been different class, with the goals to show for it. After 16 games you would expect an Old Firm player, ormaybe one from Hibs orHearts, to be top of the scoring list.

"For a club like Kilmarnock to have that striker is great but Kris would be the first to say a lot of that is down to how the team have been playing."

Whether he will still be a Kilmarnock player after January is highly debatable. Boyd, in the final months of his Rugby Park contract, has been persistently linked with Rangers but hasn't been distracted by speculation.

"It's my job to try and keep him focused and make sure that doesn't happen, " said Jefferies. "He looks to be like the type who won't be bothered by it. While he's here, there is always the chance of us keeping him. Otherwise, we hope he keeps scoring goals until his last day and the club gets something decent out of it."

Boyd is joined by his teammatesAlan Combe, Garry Hay, Gordon Greer and Gary McDonald in Smith's 17-man squad. Considering Rangers' vital Champions League match with InterMilan is taking place 20 miles up the M77, their presence may help bolster the attendance.

Smith does not share Berti Vogts' affection for the Future format and this intermediate level seems unlikely to figure in his long-term plans. Selecting a squad to face Poland was complicated by a number of factors, including Celtic's trip to Aberdeen on Sunday, as he was unwilling to risk tiring out those in action at Pittodrie.

"There are several players who have impressed me with their clubs, and I want to see what they can do in an international context, " said the Scotland manager.

"While others I might have considered are not available or injured, this is a good group of players with plenty of potential and I am looking forward to working with them."

Dundee United midfielder Mark Wilson was forced to withdrawwith an ankle injury but the Tannadice club are represented by Lee Miller and Barry Robson.

"I'm absolutely delighted to get the opportunity, " said Robson. "I really didn't expect it. Walterwas my managerwhen I was a kid at Rangers so it's nice he has remembered me."


Goalkeepers Combe (Kilmarnock), Marshall (Celtic) Defenders Berra (Heart of Midlothian), Greer, Hay (both Kilmarnock), Neilson (Hearts), Virgo (Celtic) Midfielders Wallace (Celtic), Robson (Dundee United), Kerr (Motherwell), McDonald (Kilmarnock), T Miller (Sunderland), Montgomery (Sheffield United), Teale (Wigan Athletic) Forwards Boyd (Kilmarnock), Duffy (Falkirk), L Miller (Dundee United)