ST MIRREN manager Jim Goodwin admits that he and his players are excited by the prospect of a Betfred Cup semi-final against Livingston next weekend – but warned his side that they will have to remain fully focused on the task facing them this weekend when they travel to McDiarmid Park.
The Paisley outfit memorably dumped Rangers out of the League Cup at the quarter-finals stage of the competition, teeing up a clash with David Martindale’s in-form Livingston side at the national stadium.
Naturally, Goodwin can’t help but look ahead to that day, with the Irishman admitting that midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes’ suspension for the cup tie means there is at least one spot up for grabs – but before all that, he insists, there is the small matter of Premiership duty to be seen to.
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“It would be great to go into the semi-final on the back of a positive result and performance on Saturday,” Goodwin said. “Of course there’s real competition for places as well so the lads who are lucky enough to be in the starting XI on Saturday will be staking a claim to be starting the game against Livingston.
“Unfortunately, Jake Doyle-Hayes will miss out on the semi-final through suspension so that opens up a position for someone else.
“We will try and maintain our focus on St Johnstone and give the respect they deserve. We don’t want to be going into the semi-final off the back of a poor performance and a poor result.
“I want us to maintain our good run of form — only two defeats in 16, which is an incredible run for any team. Hopefully come Saturday it will be two defeats in 17!”
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Doyle-Hayes might not be taking to the Hampden turf next week but Goodwin remains hopeful that the 22-year-old will get his chance to represent the Buddies on the famous pitch one day in the not-too-distant future.
Talks are ongoing as the club and the player’s representatives try to thrash out a new deal to extend the former Aston Villa man’s stay in Paisley, with Goodwin revealing that discussions are ‘going really well’.
Tying the promising Irishman down on a longer deal is a top priority for Goodwin, who reckons that it’s only a matter of time until the impressive core of young players at the heart of his St Mirren side – such as Ethan Erhahon, Cameron MacPherson and Connor McCarty – will eventually move onto pastures new. The challenge as Goodwin sees it is to gel them into a winning team before that day arrives.
“The negotiations are going really well,” Goodwin said of the talks with Doyle-Hayes. “Jake is loving life here at the moment but these things don’t happen quickly sometimes.
“He’s got an agent working for him who will no doubt be trying to see what other options are out there.
“But I think Jake appreciates how we do things here and he’s getting the plaudits and the credit because of the way we are playing, and he’s suited to the style of football that we are playing.
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“Jake is a big, big player for us and along with [new striking addition Eamonn]Brophy, Erhahon, MacPherson and McCarthy, these are the kind of lads we want to be building the team around.
“They are the future of the club and they will eventually because great assets for us when they move onto bigger and better things. But right now we are desperate to hold onto Jake and we are doing all we can behind the scenes to make that happen.”