Premiership Rugby Round Six - Match previews of all six gamesOct 21 | 8 min read
Jim Goodwin confident St Mirren can challenge for top-six finish
Dennis picked up an Achilles injury in Tuesday’s defeat to Hibernian.
Jim Goodwin believes St Mirren still have enough firepower to shoot their way to a top-six finish despite seeing Kristian Dennis ruled out for the remainder of the season.
The Englishman was one of the heroes who struck for the Buddies in their historic win at Celtic Park last week.
But he picked up an Achilles injury in Tuesday’s defeat to Hibernian and boss Goodwin fears the Paisley support have now seen the last of the 30-year-old former Chesterfield and Notts County frontman this term.
However, Jon Obika put the seal on Saturday’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock while Saints also have Eamonn Brophy to return after he was barred from facing his parent club.
Goodwin – who believes three wins from his team’s eight remaining fixtures before the split will be enough to clinch their place in the top half – said: “Dennis is away to see a specialist on Monday and we will see then if he needs an operation or not.
“It’s a lengthy one unfortunately and we probably won’t see him again this season.
“Jon Obika has been a big player for us and scored massive goals for us last year. Again he got an important goal on Saturday because at 1-0 Kilmarnock were looking dangerous. I thought his overall performance deserved the goal today. He led the line brilliantly and caused their back three a lot of problems.
“We were disappointed for Kristian because he was just getting up to speed but got a sore one during the week and it looks like it’ll be a lengthy one. We are gutted for him but it just shows the great options we have at the top of the squad.
“Top end of the pitch is where the game is won and lost and the fact I can take players out of the quality of Brophy and Dennis and put Obika in is a real good luxury.”
Saints put on a fantastic display of energy and organisation to beat a rudderless Killie. Kyle McAllister got the hosts at the SMISA Stadium off an running with his first goal in 21 months with Obika’s strike securing the points.
The signs are looking good for Goodwin, with the likes of Jamie McGrath and Jake Doyle-Hayes running the show in the centre of the park. Doyle-Hayes has only six months left on his deal while McGrath is signed up for the next 18.
And Goodwin hopes he can keep hold of the pair for the long-term as he looks to add to the solid foundations he has put in place this season.
He said: “We are building something here and heading in the right direction.
“This was always my aim. When I came in I spoke to the board and made sure their ambitions matched mine. I think we’re starting to see glimpses of that now.”
Killie are hoping to have a new boss in place by tomorrow but caretaker manager James Fowler admits Alex Dyer’s successor will have to cope without key defenders Kirk Broodfoot and Stuart Findlay for time to come.
He said: “We are still going to be missing them for a few weeks, one is closer than the other but they would be a huge benefit with the experience and quality they have.
“The physios are trying to speed up the process.
“I thought Zech Medley did well on his full debut. He has only come in and trained for a few days, but he showed he is a decent player. He will benefit from that 90 minutes.”