Killie’s Rory McKeown thrilled to learn some tricks from Jimmy Nicholl

Rory McKeown reckons he has the perfect mentor to teach him the art of being a full-back.

The Kilmarnock kid believes learning his trade from Northern Ireland legend Jimmy Nicholl can elevate his game to a new level.

Nicholl won 73 caps, played at two World Cup Finals and starred for Manchester United and Rangers.

And the 18-year-old insists it’s amazing to get advice from one of his country’s football greats.

Killie are at home to Rangers on Sunday for the first time since their 6-3 beating by Inverness.

Killie boss Kenny Shiels believes the rout will make full-back McKeown a stronger player.

And the lad himself is happy to agree.

He said: “There are parts of my game I need to improve, parts that are weaker than others.

“Sometimes it can be small things that make big improvements.

“Obviously working with Jimmy will help me improve. Everyone knows him and you’ve got to have respect for someone who has been there and done it, played at World Cups with Northern Ireland.

“So you can’t ignore advice from him.

“Jimmy will speak to me quite a bit and if I have a bad day in training he’ll call me over and tell me what to do.

“Jimmy, like the boss, is never short of advice.”

McKeown has made 14 appearances for Killie since joining from Ipswich in the summer.

He is relishing the prospect of testing himself against the SPL champions this weekend and believes Killie can cause an upset.

He said: “Being 18 and playing the SPL champs is great.

“They have quality players and if I can prove myself against them then it’s another string to my bow.

“St Johnstone took points off Rangers and we took points off Celtic so you never know.

“We’ve not played badly but we had a poor result against Inverness.

“We know that was a freak result and it can happen in football.

“But hopefully we can play our football against Rangers and try to pass them off the park.

“At times last weekend we passed Hibs off the pitch so I feel we can do that against Rangers.”

McKeown joined the Rugby Park outfit on a one-year deal but his form convinced Shiels to reward him with an extension until 2015.

McKeown added: “It was nice to get the new deal but it came as a bit of a surprise because I’d just arrived. But I’m not complaining.

“It’s nice that the gaffer think I’m good enough to stay for a few more years.

“I’ve featured more than I imagined. I thought I’d get a few games at the end of the season because not many bosses will play a kid who’s 18 so I owe the gaffer.”