The Paisley Pattern: Can Kearney’s revamped St Mirren beat the drop?
The Ladbrokes Premiership returns from its winter break tonight, with St Mirren looking to put the heat on their fellow relegation-battlers.
Oran Kearney’s Buddies make the 12-mile trip to Celtic tonight with a new-look squad – following a raft of January deals.
We take a look at the ins and outs in Paisley, as well as the ninth-placed Buddies’ chance of survival.
The new arrivals
Perhaps the most important of the six January additions is defender Mihai Popescu. The towering Romanian has been the best in Bucharest (Dinamo Bucharest, to be precise!), with robust displays and a nifty knack for scoring on set-pieces.
Having managed just three clean sheets in 21 league games, his addition could prove absolutely key.
After a difficult time at Pittodrie, Greg Tansey has made the move to the Paisley 2021 Stadium. While he’s been short on gametime in the past year or two, the skilful midfielder knows this league inside out.
Pacy forward and boyhood Buddie Kyle McAllister is back home – on loan from parent club Derby County, and netted in Saturday’s FA Cup win over Alloa Athletic.
Meanwhile, there’s fresh competition for a place between the posts – Vaclav Hladky (a stopper with European experience) could be the new number one.
As for Australia Under-20 international Jordan Holmes, who arrives on loan from AFC Bournemouth, he won’t want to stay down under his goalie competitors for long.
It’s largely been a clearing of the deadwood for Kearney, with a number of players joining Ladbrokes Championship and League 1 sides.
The only major departure is wing wizard Adam Hammill, who netted four times in 13 league outings for the Buddies, and has joined EFL side Scunthorpe United.
Sim cards…and goals
While he’s been at the club since October, Simeon Jackson almost seems like a new signing in recent weeks.
The Canadian hitman remains something of a hot tempered player, with bookings in two of his last nine games – as well as a red card in the defeat to Hamilton Academical.
However, Kearney has begun to coax the goals out of him. He’s scored in three of the Buddies’ last eight league games, and it’s generally proved crucial. Especially so in December’s 1-0 win at Motherwell, where he netted the only goal on 67 minutes.
If the Irish boss can help curb some of Jackson’s meatier challenges, and keep him on the goalscoring track – survival certainly looks doable.
The odds make St Mirren a huge 28/1 to leave Celtic Park with maximum points tonight, while the Paisley club are 6/1 in the Double Chance.
Click here for the latest Celtic v St Mirren odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing