JAMIE MACDONALD, the Kilmarnock goalkeeper, admits he and his team-mates need to show more character after becoming embroiled in a Premiership relegation battle. The Rugby Park side currently occupy the play-off place and are in danger of being caught by a resurgent Dundee United side. New manager Lee Clark criticised his players’ lack of fight following Tuesday night’s 2-0 home defeat to Ross County and MacDonald admitted they all need to demonstrate greater urgency in their forthcoming matches if they are to move up the table to safety.

“It’s a worry,” he admitted. “It’s a difficult situation as we are in a relegation battle and we need boys to step up to the plate. Prior to the County game, our last three performances were grittier performances but we need to keep doing that. We seem to have three good performances and think we have turned the corner and then take a step backwards. We need to work hard and make sure everyone is going in the one direction and look forward to the next game.

“It’s a strange league and anything can happen. You can see that our best performances have come against the so-called better teams. It’s a big nine games we have left and although it’s a cliche, every one of them is a cup final. It’s as simple as that.

“We know we are involved in a relegation battle - that is the bottom line. But we believe we can pull ourselves out of it. The manager knows we can but performance-wise against County we weren’t good enough or near where we have been in the last three or four games. Last Saturday against Hearts I thought we were unlucky but against County we huffed and puffed and didn’t really deserve it. It’s up to us now to really get the finger out.”

Clark is yet to experience any kind of new manager bounce after succeeded Gary Locke in the Kilmarnock dug-out. The former Newcastle player has been in charge for three matches and his team is yet to score, never mind register a win. With no match this weekend, MacDonald hopes it will give the manager a chance to further implement his ideas.

“We have a new manager and now we have a break before the next game and that will give him time to work with us. We have had one full week with him as his first week was a bit broken up as we had the Scottish Cup replay and he didn’t quite take charge then. It’s been a bit stop-start so now we have 10 days where we can work on the training pitch to get prepared for the next match. It’s in our own hands so hopefully all of our boys realise that and we can turn it around.”