Tommy Wright will embrace the derby-day drama at Somerset Park tonight but wants his Kilmarnock players to keep their eyes on the prize.

Killie kicked off a key week in their cinch Championship title challenge on Saturday with a 2-1 victory at home to Hamilton Accies.

Wright's men head into hostile territory this evening for a tasty clash with old rivals Ayr United before hosting Queen of the South at the weekend.

And maximum points from all three games is the target for the manager and his squad as they bid to reel in league leaders Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

“It was a good weekend for us and the perfect build up to the derby game in midweek," said Wright yesterday as he looked ahead to the trip down the A77.

“This week there are nine points up for grabs and our aim is to get all nine and see where that takes it us.

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“The lads were up for the challenge in the first derby game we played and we will be ready for it.

“There will be a great atmosphere and we have 3,000 fans going down. It’s a night game under the lights so it will be all set up for a cracking game."

Goals from Liam Polworth and Innes Cameron earned Killie a 2-0 win over Ayr at Rugby Park on the opening day of the season.

Since that showdown, Ayr have changed managers with Jim Duffy replacing David Hopkin in the dugout but Wright isn't expecting any surprises from the highly-motivated hosts.

He added: “Ayr have not changed much in terms of how they play. I know Jim and loaned him a couple of players down the years.

“They will be organised, hard to beat and will work hard for each other.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Blair Alston insists it's all about what Kilmarnock do tonight as they try and build on their triumph over Accies.

He said: “We played them in the first game of the season and that went well but we know it’s going to be tough.

“In this league, you don’t get many easy games and derbies are always tough but it’s nice to go there with a wee bit of confidence behind us.

“We know they have threats in their team. But for us it is about putting our gameplan out there and making sure we impose ourselves on the game rather than worrying about what they’re going to do to us.”

Alston was one of the new recruits in the summer as boss Wright embarked on a Rugby Park revolution following the bitter disappointment of relegation from the Premiership.

Bouncing back at the first time of asking is essential for Kilmarnock but Alston believes they are not being weighed down by the levels of expectation.

The 29-year-old added: “I think we’ve coped with the pressure well enough. We’d have liked to have won more games but there was a big turnaround in players and it can take time to gel.

“We’re handling things better now and I’m sure we can kick on for the rest of the season.”

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