GREG KILTIE insists he was denied a fair crack of the whip by Kilmarnock boss Angelo Alessio – and could not risk ‘rotting’ under the Italian.
The 22-year-old has joined Championship outfit Dunfermline on a season-long loan after failing to cement a starting berth at Rugby Park, with the swoop being seen as something of a coup for the Fifers.
Kiltie ended last term in fantastic fashion during a stint with Morton and impressed in his four cameo appearances for Killie in the opening weeks of this campaign.
The exit of the former Scotland under-19 international was decried by many Kilmarnock supporters who were underwhelmed by their club’s transfer business and, perhaps tellingly, their skipper Gary Dicker even Tweeted: ‘Another good man gone! All the best for the season @gregkiltie’.
Kiltie said: “It’s been frustrating for me because all my appearances this season have been from the bench and I want to be starting games. I made that clear to the manager at Kilmarnock [Alessio] and I don’t think I’ve been given a fair opportunity when I’ve done enough to justify that.
“I think the Kilmarnock fans would back me up on that.
“You need to look after yourself. I’ve been at Kilmarnock since I was a kid but if my chance isn’t going to come, then I want to go elsewhere and improve.
“I was playing towards the end of last season at Morton and I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t stop; that I wouldn’t go back to playing reserve team football. I felt like I was slipping back towards that. I couldn’t have that at 22 years of age.
“I’ve got a year left on my contract at Kilmarnock so I need to play – I can’t be rotting away.”
Kiltie’s switch to the Pars was ratified as the clock ticked down on deadline day, with Kiltie revealing that a dramatic 70-mile dash from his home in Ayrshire to East End Park was required when the opportunity came out of the blue.
He smiled: “I didn’t know anything about it on Monday morning!
“I was just having dinner with my missus and I knew something might be in the pipeline but wasn’t too sure. Then I got a phone-call from my agent saying: ‘Can you make it to Dunfermline?’ I said: ‘Definitely!’
“I spoke to the manager at Dunfermline [Stevie Crawford] and it just materialised pretty swiftly from there. I ended up through at East End Park at 10.30 p.m. doing a quick medical! It was hectic.”
Despite the whirlwind nature of the deal, Kiltie has no doubt that he has made a wise choice and was visibly delighted at the prospect of establishing himself as a key man Dunfermline.
And there has been no shortage of glowing testimonials – including his old Killie team-mate Lee Ashcroft, who is now vice-captain at East End Park.
He laughed: “Lee texted me on Monday night to say: ‘That’s you trying to get back in my car school? Well, it’s full!’
“No, I know how much he loves it here and that’s a big tick.
“I know a few boys who have played here before and the texts were coming in saying: ‘It’s a fantastic club, you’ll really enjoy it’. When that’s the reaction, you know you’ve made the right decision.”
Although Kiltie has committed to the Pars for the rest of the campaign, both Dunfermline and Kilmarnock have break clauses which they can choose to exercise in January.
However, he admits that would require a substantial change in circumstances at one of the clubs.
He added: “You just need to roll with that as a player. I’m at Dunfermline for the season unless Kilmarnock decide otherwise.
“I’ll just focus on doing well for Dunfermline. You never know what will happen – the situation could change at Kilmarnock or at Dunfermline – so you stay open to things, but I’m really happy here.”
Kiltie has not featured for Kilmarnock Colts in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup so is eligible to make his Dunfermline debut against Alloa in the competition on Saturday.