ST MIRREN defender Marc McAusland paid the price for a dire showing at Pittodrie when he surrendered his place, now he hopes to win it back after his team-mates were humbled by Motherwell.
The big centre-half was dropped by boss Danny Lennon for Saturday’s Fir Park fixture after his blunder gifted Scott Vernon the opener in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Aberdeen. He was responsible for another four opportunities the Dons should have done better with and was punished as Lee Mair took his place against Well.
But that line-up change failed to produce the result Lennon was looking for, with the Paisley men culpable for their own downfall in a 3-0 loss to Stuart McCall’s side. Now McAusland hopes that defeat may hand him a reprieve against Dundee United today.
“It’s down to the manager at the end of the day,” said the 25-year-old. “But if I’m performing well in training the gaffer will see that and hopefully it will be enough to get me back in. I had a poor game up at Aberdeen and that is why I was not picked for Motherwell. But the performance and the result there leaves a window for me to get back in.
“For a while when we were short on cover, you knew you would be playing regardless of your performance but now we have great competition for places. The boys are all training well and that makes it harder to stay in the team. If you’re not performing then you’ll be dropped and that’s what happened to me last week.”
It took Saints eight games to finally register their first Scottish Premiership victory of the new campaign as they beat Hearts at Tynecastle at the start of October. That Gorgie win teed up a run of nine games with just one league defeat – a 4-0 thrashing by United.
But, having shipped five goals without reply against the Dons and Motherwell, McAusland says St Mirren can not afford to lose for a second time to Jackie McNamara’s United if they want to keep their top six ambitions on track.
He said: “We had a challenging start to the season when we didn’t pick up many points. But then we went on a wee run and moved up the table. But we’ve lost these last two games and we do not want to get dragged back down towards the bottom of the league again. Hopefully, come Thursday, we can turn it around.”
McNamara believes his on-form side face a tough task in Paisley.
“We will have every respect for St Mirren,” he said. “They like to get the ball down and play like ourselves so it should be open in that respect.
“We’re on a good run of form right now but we know what St Mirren are capable of on their day. We’ll need to be wary of them and we will be because our aim is to keep this run going.
“There are no easy games in this division and that will definitely be the case when we go through there on Thursday.”
United have been attracting big crowds of late, with more than 8,000 witnessing their win against County, so McNamara hopes they travel to Paisley in numbers to roar their side on to another victory.
He said: “We had a great attendance for the County game. They can be like an extra man by creating the sort of atmosphere the players respond to on the pitch.
“We’re hoping to have a decent-size following through for the St Mirren game because it can make all the difference. They’re liking what they’re seeing from the lads so long may that continue.”