Scottish Premier League

McLean dreaming of silverware

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 17:35:00

Rangers manager Ally McCoist has no fresh injury worries ahead of Saturday's Scottish Third Division clash with Clyde at Broadwood.

However, the Light Blues have no players returning from injury either, with skipper Lee McCulloch, Francisco Sandaza, Ross Perry, Lewis Macleod and Kevin Kyle still sidelined.

Youngster Kal Naismith serves the second of a two-match ban for the league leaders, with McCoist expecting to name a similar squad to last week.

Victory over Ross County, combined with a draw in the match between Motherwell and Inverness, would allow Saints to pull level on points with Caley Thistle in the coveted runners-up position.

But, with a tough seven days ahead, including a meeting with SPL leaders Celtic, Lomas is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "We would like to get top six again. We had a taste of it last year so we would like to get there again.

"Its very tight and we've got a very big week Ross County away, Celtic at home and St Mirren at home.

"Ross County are probably one of the form teams and so are St Mirren. Playing Celtic in-between is going to be tough.

"We are under no illusions that we are probably going to have to win at least another three or four games to get into that top six.

"The old cliche comes in that you are only looking at one game.

"We've got three games in seven days, which will stretch us and everybody in the squad will have to play a part.

"We're not really focusing past that."

St Johnstone make the trip to Dingwall boosted by an impressive 3-1 win over Hibernian at Easter Road on Monday night.

Lomas said: "Confidence should be high, it was a good performance.

"But it's gone now, it's put to bed, and well have to try to repeat it now.

"I don't think Ross County have been beaten since the turn of the year.

"They are a very efficient side and the manager has brought in four or five very good signings, he's probably been the busiest of the managers in the SPL.

"All credit to them, they are a decent, well-organised team."

Ross County look set to comfortably survive their first season in the top flight and Lomas has been impressed by the SPL newcomers so far this term.

He said: "They are very organised, very workman-like, with a very good team spirit about them.

"They have good quality as well, which isn't a bad combination. It's never an easy place to go to.

"All credit to them, they've bedded themselves right in there and its going to be a tough game."

Last year's First Division champions are unbeaten in their last six games and are in ninth place in the table following last week's 2-0 win over bottom side Dundee at Dens Park, which came with the help of a goal from midfielder Lawson.

Saints are in fourth place but only four points ahead of County and the former Celtic player is looking to get into the top half of the table.

"We've got the top six in our sights, you want to finish as high as you can," he said.

"We'll take each game as it comes but in the longer term it would be great to finish up there

"It's been a great run, each game brings even more confidence and the games of late have pushed up the table which has been nice.

"Obviously it takes time to settle in to the SPL, we started well but then had a little dip in form.

"However we've responded well and are concentrating of keeping the run going and if we can keep it going then it would be great.

"As the table show there's nothing between the teams.

"St Johnstone got a good result away to Hibs on Monday but it's all about us and, as I said, we want to keep our unbeaten run going."

Lawson is enjoying first-team action again after injuries disrupted the start to his season.

The former Scotland Under-21 player, who has been at Ross County since 2007 when the club was in the Irn-Bru Division Two, said: "It's nice to be back in the side and the run we're on at the moment makes it easier.

"And on a personal note I just want to continue doing well for the team.

"I had a couple of niggling injuries at the start of the season and when you come back and get injured again it's never nice.

"When I was fit I couldn't get into the team, which is very frustrating but just got to keep the head down and work hard.

"The starting 11 are doing very well but we're being pushed by the guys on the bench and even the guys in the stands are of a high quality and they're training well and pushing the guys all the way."

McLean has had to live with endless speculation about his future over the past year and it is believed within the club that he is likely to depart in the summer.

The 21-year-old, though, is more excited about the possibility of a Scottish Communities League Cup winners medal when the Buddies go up against Hearts in the Hampden final next month.

And the Scotland Under-21 player also harbours dreams of glory in the Scottish Cup, where the Buddies host Celtic in the quarter-finals next month.

It is the prospect of silverware and success which is driving McLean on.

He said: "We have the final coming up so there is a great chance for a medal and that is massive for someone at such a young age like myself.

"I am enjoying my football at St Mirren, enjoying life in the SPL which is a good level, so there isn't much more you can ask for at 21.

"People keep saying a move is going to happen but I need to put that to the back of my mind and concentrate on what's in front of me.

"If I do go I think it has got to be right for both parties.

"The club have treated me ever so well since I came here from Rangers as a young boy when things didn't work out at Ibrox.

"They took me in and gave me my chance at such a young age.

"I have played 70 or 80 games for the first team which is great.

"So I think any move has got to be right for both parties and the club will say the same, I'm sure."

McLean admits the Hampden showpiece occasion on March 17 against the Gorgie club looms large but knows final places will be up for grabs in the intervening matches.

Ahead of the visit of Hibernian in the SPL on Saturday, he said: "The final is always going to be there at the back of your mind.

"It is a massive achievement for the players, the management and the staff, for everybody.

"But there are plenty games before that and I think we need to concentrate on what's ahead of us, take it game by game and get a good bit of momentum going and keep it going and hopefully come the final, we will still be playing well.

"Hibs aren't playing too well but you can't look too much into that.

"It's about what happens on the day, we know that, we have a good run going right now but we were on a bad run ourselves."

McLean, unsurprisingly, pinpointed Leigh Griffiths as the Hibees danger man.

The colourful Easter Road striker scored a brace in both 2-1 wins over the Buddies this season.

McLean said: "He has done a bit of damage to us so we need to keep him quiet and hopefully that will be half the battle."

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