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Burke hopes it is second time lucky against Hearts

Kilmarnock winger Chris Burke hopes it is second time lucky against Hearts after being denied his Tynecastle winner last month.

The Rugby Park ace thought he had opened his account for the season when he scored the only goal in Killie’s 1-0 Gorgie victory.

Burke sneaked in at the back post to get his head on Niko Hamalainen’s cross, with the ball flying into the net after taking a ricochet off Jambos wideman Jake Mulraney’s back.

The former Rangers ace ran off in celebration but was later disappointed to learn the goal had been credited as Irishman Mulraney’s own goal.

The teams meet again in Ayrshire on Saturday and Burke hopes there will be no denying him this time.

He said: “We got a great result against Hearts when we played them at Tynecastle so we know we can do the same thing again.

“I’ve not scored this season. Apparently I didn’t get the goal against Hearts that day so hopefully I can get my first of the season again against Hearts on Saturday.

“I suppose if I don’t get the goal then I must get the assist.”

Interim boss Austin MacPhee will once again be the man in Hearts’ dug-out this weekend as the search for Craig Levein’s permanent successor goes on.

But Burke fully expects the visitors to be well marshalled on the pitch by his old Ibrox team-mate Steven Naismith.

He said: “Having Naismith back will help Hearts. I’m fortunate to have played with Steven at Rangers and he’s a fantastic player.

“On the pitch and off it he’s influential, which you saw for Scotland the other night.

“He was terrific. John McGinn got the plaudits against Kazakhstan but I thought Steven was excellent too. He missed a couple of chances but I knew he’d score and was delighted for him when he did.

“Hopefully that leadership he shows won’t be crucial for them on Saturday but he has been like that ever since I’ve known him and has vast experience having played at the top level.

“He organises his team, he sees a picture develop and that is down to his intelligence. He doesn’t just have natural and technical ability, he’s got that desire to win too.”

At 35, Burke knows he is entering not only the final six months of his Killie deal but also the twilight of his career.

But while he is still enjoying life at Rugby Park, he is refusing to contemplate retirement.

He said: “The thing I ask myself is, ‘Can I compete in this group, this league? Am I influential on and off the pitch? Do I challenge my team-mates? Am I still fit? Do I still have mobility?’

“The answer I believe is yes. But the main thing is still having the enthusiasm for the game. As soon as you lose that then I think it’s time to hang up the boots.

“Hopefully it will be my decision rather than someone else’s but right now I still love playing football. It doesn’t matter if I’m 35 or 15, I’ve always loved it.

“I’ve had no talks whatsoever about a new deal. I think it’s the same across the board. I just have to prove on the pitch that I can still do it.”