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Steve Clarke keeping options open over future

Steve Clarke insists he is happy at Kilmarnock but family priorities could see him leave this summer.

Clarke collected the GMB Scotland manager of the year award on Sunday, voted by his colleagues, after breaking Kilmarnock’s top-flight points record for a second consecutive season.

Killie sit third in the Ladbrokes Premiership with two games left and a Europa League place firmly in their sights, and Clarke’s success has seen him linked with the Scotland and Fulham jobs.

The 55-year-old has a year left on his Rugby Park contract and insists it is a possibility he will remain despite potentially being in demand elsewhere.

“It can happen,” the former Chelsea and Liverpool coach said. “I’ve been very open with everyone at Kilmarnock, even the supporters. It’s one of my traits, I try to be honest. Sometimes I’m too honest and sometimes I say things I should maybe keep to myself and it gets me into a little bit of trouble. That’s just the way I have been brought up.

“At the moment, the only decision I have to make is personal or professional.

“I do miss my family, the life that I had down south. But professionally, I am super happy here.

“It’s been a great career move for me. I love working with Billy Bowie, he’s a fantastic owner, lets me do pretty much what I want to do, gives me the backing that I need. I have a great backroom staff and the players have been fantastic. So I couldn’t ask for any more professionally.”

The former St Mirren defender, who returned to Scotland after a 30-year absence in October 2017, added: “I came here with a little bit of risk. If this job hadn’t worked out for me, I’d probably be spending a hell of a lot more time on the golf course.

“The clubs would have been dusted down and my handicap would be much better but it’s great the way it’s worked out.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I could get a job as a coach but this job has been good for my managerial career.

“I have been linked with a lot of jobs over my time at Kilmarnock and am still being linked with them now but that’s only because of the success of the team.”

Clarke was sacked from his two managerial jobs in England but would not be put off accepting another challenge in the “cut-throat” environment.

“The top two divisions in England are very much financially motivated – everybody wants to be in the Premier League,” he said. “At certain clubs the job can be very short term, you don’t have time to develop.

“But it’s a different challenge. I’ve worked in that league. I had a good time at West Brom, we achieved a record points total. I seem to be quite good at that.

“It’s a cut-throat market. I worked in the Championship with Reading and I didn’t get a full season. I got from December to the end of one season, where we got them to the FA Cup semi-final. I got from the start of the next season to December, and we had slipped one point out of the play-off places and suddenly you got canned for it. This is the reality of the job in England.

“Up here you might get a little bit more time but if you speak to somebody like Neil McCann, who was sacked early in the season, Martin Canning lost his job this year, it’s not so easy.”