Derek McInnes admits he would support a motion to change the format of the Viaplay Cup group stages.

The 2023/24 League Cup campaign gets underway this afternoon with many teams returning to competitive action just three weeks after reporting back for pre-season training.

The Kilmarnock boss insists the schedule is premature and could lead to additional injuries with three games in one week at such an early point in the season.

Annan Athletic are the visitors at Rugby Park today. While there is a significant gulf between the teams, McInnes is adamant his team will not take the newly promoted League One side lightly.

He said: “It is a potential banana skin, there are potential banana skins all over the cup. 

“It comes too early, I feel really strongly about it, players don’t get enough rest on their break. We did last season with the Championship finishing earlier and also we had enough signed players to deal with the group stages. 

“There’s no way players can be ready, you’re asking teams to play three times a week, and most aren’t ready to do that. Managers are trying to put squads together so I think it all just comes a bit prematurely. 

“We’ve had to accelerate pre-season, but at the same time, this is such an important competition for us. We saw it last year, we were a referee’s decision away from taking Celtic to extra-time at Hampden, we had a lot of benefits from it financially. 

READ MORE: Stuart Findlay details Kilmarnock return & Scotland aims

“We loved the cup run, we want to go all the way, we want to try and be that team again that gets to Hampden. 

“The game against Annan is so important, there’s no way it’ll get treated as a glorified pre-season, we’re not good enough to think like that. We respect our opponents, Annan got promoted and they’ve got a good style of play that they commit to. 

“They’ll come up confident and they’ll come up believing that they can catch us undercooked and maybe cause a shock. There will be a shock somewhere, we need to make sure that it’s not going to be here at Rugby Park.”

He continued: “I don’t know if there’s a desire there from clubs to change the format or how early it is, but if there was I’d support it. I know calendars are tight, but I think we could move it to next week for example. 

“I don’t want to be seen to be making excuses before an important cup tie, but if you’re asking my opinion I think there’s no way we can be ready. 

“Due to the added complications of trying to put a squad together, we’ll have some younger lads on the bench which isn’t a bad thing. You run the risk of injuries when you’re cramming three games a week in so early, it’s all a bit unnecessary.”