KILMARNOCK manager Angelo Alessio has insisted the club won't entertain Oxford United's interest in their Scotland squad defender Stuart Findlay, ahead of his managerial debut tonight in Wales against Connah's Quay in the Europa League.

The Italian coach makes his bow as successor to Steve Clarke in the extremely modest surroundings of Rhyl's tiny Belle Vue ground in the first leg of the first qualifying round. His concentration on the tie would have been distracted by Oxford manager Karl Robinson going public on his admiration for Findlay, ahead of a bid that is expected to be north of £500,000. But the former Chelsea, Juventus, Napoli and Italy No.2 insists the English side are wasting their time and Findlay is going nowhere.

He said: "Our task in this moment is to keep our best players – not sell them. For me, selling this player is not something I want to think about. My thoughts now are about this game. But our top players like Stuart, I have to say that I want to keep them here at the club."

And Alessio, who will decide today whether to start new on-loan Juventus keeper Laurentiu Branescu, is excited about his debut as a manager in European football, even at the modest surroundings of Rhyl's tight Belle Vue stadium.

He said: "I have a lot of experience in European competitions, both as a player and as a coach. We always live under pressure in every moment. But we are ready for this. My experience tells me that every match is tough. This will be the same – very tough and I have studied Connah’s Quay a lot.

"We have prepared very well over the past week. We have done our homework and are ready for this. It is exciting for us to start a new season. It is the first official game and we are ready for this appointment.

"We have only played two games in pre-season and, okay, of course, you could maybe want to play a few more. But I know my players are ready because they are professional. I trust them. I am confident we will produce a good performance."

Kilmarnock Gary Dicker meanwhile, doesn't agree with the bookmakers who make the Scots huge favourites to qualify after pointing out Andy Morrison's side have more experience than Killie on this stage.

He said: "I wouldn't go as far as to say we are massive favourites – they play in Europe more than us. It's a tough game and you have to respect them. In anyone's going in thinking it will be an easy game...well they are probably thinking the same.

"If you get too ahead of yourself in football, you get a nice slap in the face. We are just treating it like any other game. It's an important game for us. We respect everyone. We don't think this will be an easy game and we know they won't roll over."

And he's backed Scotland striker Eamonn Brophy to fill the large No.9 jersey – in size and status – vacated by retired Kris Boyd.

He said: " I’m sure Eamonn is used to that now. He’s got the number nine jersey, though the shirt’s a bit smaller than it was last season! I’m sure he knows the pressure of being a number nine, whether you’re at Kilmarnock or Manchester United, the pressure’s on to score goals.

"He doesn’t let that much faze him. He’s not the most intelligent, but that probably works in his favour. You saw him playing for Scotland – most players would’ve been a nervous wreck, but knowing Eamonn he was probably chilled our relaxing – he probably forgot he was starting!

"His record since he’s come here has been really good and he’s got better as he’s played more because he hadn’t started a lot of games before he came here so he’s developing. He was brilliant for us last season and hopefully he can score a few here."