Steve Clarke admits Kilmarnock will find it a whole lot tougher next year - because their top-six rivals will be training their sights on the Rugby Park side.

The former West Brom and Reading boss was named manager of the year by the Scottish Football Writers' Association after masterminding Killie's incredible turnaround campaign.

The Ayrshire outfit were bottom of the table when Clarke was appointed back in October but they ended up setting a club-record points total as they finished fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

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Clarke, though, is refusing to get carried away ahead of next term as he believes his team will be targeted by the likes of Motherwell, Dundee and St Johnstone as they look to replicate his recipe for success.

"I'm guarded about next season," he told Press Association Sport. "All the big clubs with bigger budgets than ours will improve.

"The teams on similar budgets who finished below us will want to finish above us next year, so we'll be a little target for them.

"I'm sure they'll all be saying to themselves, 'Well if Kilmarnock can do it then we can do it too'.

"So we know it will be tougher next year."

Clarke has tied down the majority of his squad for next season and is still hoping Youssouf Mulumbu will opt against chasing more lucrative offers elsewhere in favour of another year at Rugby Park.

But he admits his meagre budget means he will have to bide his time before finalising his summer transfer dealings.

He explained: "I've tried to do as much business in terms of tying up this squad so I can have a relatively good idea of what I'm working with next year.

"I know one or two positions or one or two types of player that we need to help us improve.

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"But we're not a club that can attack the transfer market with money and tie up players early. So I think we'll be waiting for the fall-out from the window, waiting to see who goes where and who is available later in the window.

"I've got a small budget so I don't want to use it all up and then find a couple of great opportunities turn up in August and I have no scope left to do anything.

"We'll try to be careful, we'll try to be clever and put together a competitive squad for next season.

"How many new faces do I expect? I'd love it to be only one or two but it might be three or four. It could even be five.

"It's very difficult to sit here and say all these players are staying because we can't do that. We're not in a position to do that.

"We'll wait and see what happens over the summer and we'll be ready to react if we have to react."