THE debate over plastic pitches is a long-running one and it has come to the fore again after Jamie Murphy was injured at Rugby Park on Sunday.

Firstly, I hope Jamie isn’t as badly hurt as first feared and he is back playing as quickly as possible because he could be a key part of Steven Gerrard’s plans this season.

Steven and James Tavernier were fairly outspoken after the game. If Rangers hadn’t won, I am not sure Steven or anyone else would have come out and said as much about the pitch because it looks like sour grapes if you have lost.

But he clearly had a point to make and I know there are a lot of conflicting views over the use of artificial surfaces, especially in the Premiership.

The surface was already down when I joined Kilmarnock and it was something that I had to accept really. It was spoken about in the boardroom but I knew it was going to be too much of an expense to rip it up and put grass back down. That wasn’t going to happen.

I think the park has weathered a bit and it has been used quite a lot since it has been down. I am sure it is in its last year and it needs to be re-laid at the end of the season.

Whether they put another one down or they go back to grass, I don’t know. That will be down to the board to decide.

If I had still been Kilmarnock manager, when the expiry date, if you like, runs out for that pitch I would have been angling for the club to go back to grass.

I can understand why Kilmarnock went down that route and it is the same for Hamilton Accies and Livingston. It is a cost-cutting exercise.

If you look at Accies’ new pitch that has just been put down, it looks brilliant. Obviously I have not played on it though.

Killie were training up at the Science Park in Glasgow and it was costing them fortunes every week just to rent the facility. So I could see why they thought they would be better off training at Rugby Park and they can use it for the kids as well.

If you look at Project Brave, clubs are being asked to put in so much money to get Category 5 and one of the requirements is a pitch for kids that can be used in all weather. That is an argument for synthetic surfaces.

The important thing is a watering system and that is something Kilmarnock don’t have. At Hamilton, they are able to water it to make the ball move faster across it because it is not as sticky.

When you have got a plastic pitch, it needs to be brushed so many times and it needs to be looked after. When you have the first team on it in the morning and the youths on it at night, it is getting used pretty much all the time and it might not get brushed as much as it should be.

I am not talking about any pitch in particular, it is just a general point about how these surfaces need to be maintained if you are to stop them deteriorating.

Hamilton were voted to have had the worst park in the Premiership last season and you have players like Steven MacLean that can’t play in certain fixtures because of the surfaces. You knew he wouldn’t play against us at Killie because of the injuries he had suffered earlier in his career. For any club, that is something you have to weigh up.

When you open up the debate to injuries, it is not causing Kilmarnock many problems. I don’t think they have had that many injuries over the last couple of seasons.

But I certainly echo what has been said and there is no doubt that players would much rather be training and playing on grass.

I did have an issue convincing some of the players that it was OK to train and play on and this has been a talking point for years.

Martyn Waghorn got injured there a couple of years ago and Mark Warburton had quite a lot to say about the pitch. He got shot down for bringing up the pitch.

But I think if you ask any professional football player what they would rather play on, I think 99 per cent of them would say grass. Elite players want grass pitches.

When we were recruiting players, we maybe missed out on two or three because they couldn’t play on the pitch. That is part and parcel, you are always going to miss out on players for different reasons.

With some of the players, I had to convince them to play on it and I tried to train on grass if we were on grass in the next game. When we were at home, we trained on it.

I felt the general consensus was that the boys didn’t really want to train on it and most players will want to be on grass all the time.

A few years ago, the Rugby Park pitch was amazing, a great surface, and everyone loved playing on it but to put the plastic down must have got hundreds of thousands of pounds. It was an investment, so fair play to Kilmarnock for that.

But they were putting money out to try and save money. Also, there is an advantage to Killie if they are playing teams that don’t really want to be on that pitch.

It hasn’t really been an issue since Steve Clarke came in when you look at the way they play football and the results they have got. Yes, it is not ideal but I don’t think it is the end of the world.

It is only the clubs that can change the SPFL rules and while these pitches are permitted in the Premiership you will have boards that will put them down.

If clubs have spent a lot of money to install them, you can’t say ‘it is grass next season or you are chucked out of the league’. You need a bit of common sense. But, in the long-term, I think it would be better if it was all grass.

Through time, we should move back to grass because it is better for the game and I don’t think you will get many people in Scottish football that would argue against that.