STEVEN Thompson is not afraid to admit he is “visualising” Hampden glory every day ahead of St Mirren’s Scottish Communities League Cup final against Hearts next weekend.
However, the 34-year-old former Rangers, Cardiff and Burnley striker is ready to give everything when he faces another of his former clubs, Dundee United, in their SPL clash in Paisley today.
As soon as that match is over, Thompson will return to some sports psychology techniques he has picked up over the years to get himself in the best frame of mind for the final.
“We obviously have tomorrow’s game against Dundee United and have to show a reaction to losing to Dundee during the week, to give belief and confidence back to the supporters for next weekend,” he said. “But there is no doubt I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of next weekend. It has certainly been at the forefront of my mind for quite some time.
“I think about it on a daily basis. I don’t mind talking about it. I am willing to admit that, basically, it is consuming most of my head space and has been for weeks and I am not scared to admit that. I have been visualising plenty of things and they are all positive.
“Visualising is an important part of preparation for sport and, in my head, I have got quite a few powerful visions. You pick up bits and pieces through the years. I have obviously been at a few clubs and sport psychologists have come in and out throughout during my career and talked to players. A lot of people were talking about visualisation during the summer at the Olympics and how it can improve your performance and it is a tool I try to use.”
Asked if a last-minute winner at Hampden was his perfect scenario, Thompson smiled and replied: “I would take any minute, it doesn’t need to be the last.”
Manager Danny Lennon, though, insists the Dundee United match will not simply be a warm-up for the cup final. “I won’t be resting anyone,” he said. “It is not a cup final preparation, it is all about getting three points.
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara admits he does not mind if they win ugly as they take the points back to Tayside. United know they are approaching the business end of the season and could do with a win to boost their top-six hopes. They ground out a hard-fought 2-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Dundee at Dens Park last weekend and McNamara would take more of the same this weekend.
He said: “It’s all about winning at this stage in the season. That is what it comes down to and we know that. It wasn’t the best game to watch last Sunday, but the main thing was getting into the next round. We’ll have to be prepared to dig deep again against St Mirren as they are a difficult team to play against and we have had them watched.”