Kilmarnock: James Dayton wants Liam Kelly to extend stay

James Dayton and Liam Kelly celebrate the winner against Hearts
James Dayton and Liam Kelly celebrate the winner against Hearts

Kilmarnock winger James Dayton is hoping the club can hold on to recent Scotland debutant Liam Kelly at least for the rest of the season.

Kelly, whose contract ends in the summer, has been linked with Celtic, Norwich City and West Ham United.

"You want your friends to do well in football and go to the next level and I would love to see him go to the next level," said Dayton.

"But, for Kilmarnock Football Club, we want him to be here."

Dayton won the first-half Boxing Day penalty that allowed 22-year-old midfielder Kelly to score his fifth goal of the season in .

"I would like to see Liam stay - he is a vital player to our team," said Dayton of the player whose profile was raised further when he was a substitute in Scotland's win over Luxembourg.

"He deserved international recognition and, since then, people have spoken more about him, which is good.

"He is a hard-working, strong character with good qualities.

"He is breaking from midfield and that is what people want, goal-scoring midfielders."

Dayton was in no doubt that Hearts defender Andy Webster's clumsy challenge inside the box in the 26th minute merited a spot-kick.

"I dropped my shoulder and he has gone for it, stuck out a leg and caught me," he said. "It was a penalty in my opinion."

However, the 24-year-old Englishman was also pleased by the way Killie defended thereafter to emerge with the points that took them into sixth place in the Scottish Premier League.