Hamilton Accies achieved an unprecedented double yesterday as the manager and player of the month awards made their way to Martin Canning and David Templeton at the club. Canning, though, is after a bigger prize in the form of a new deal for the winger whose career has been resuscitated by the Lanarkshire side.
Since the formation of the SPFL in 2013, Hamilton have never landed the big two monthly honours. Templeton, indeed, is the first player from the club to be so recognised in that time – testament to the 28-year-old, almost lost to football through injury, once more producing the game-changing form not witnessed since he was a youngster at Hearts. Meanwhile, Canning joins an exclusive club that contains only Alex Neil after becoming a Hamilton manager with a monthly award in his cabinet.
The 36-year-old, only weeks short of his third anniversary in post, was yesterday keen to stress the importance of the collective in Hamilton hoovering up the accolades. Yet, he also recognised the pivotal role played by Templeton in a superb November. The forward scored in both the club’s first league win against Rangers at Ibrox in 91 years and the draw with Aberdeen that preceded it. The month ended with Hamilton finishing all square with Hibernian before opening this month with a draw against Hearts at Tynecastle. The club are now on a six-game unbeaten run ahead of facing St Johnstone in Perth on Saturday.
Canning is mindful that the last time Hamilton possessed a player who had Scottish football taking notice as they are with the rejuvenated Templeton, it was Tony Andreu in 2014-15 and he was enticed away in the January window with a £1 million deal re-uniting him with the recently departed Neil at Norwich City.
Templeton signed only a one-year deal when Hamilton gave him the chance to rebuild his career in the summer following two years in the wilderness. Canning knows any delay in agreeing a new deal could see rival clubs swoop for the former Rangers attacker.
“When Tony Andreu started banging in goals we found it difficult to hold on to him and that’s the same with any player who is shining,” said Canning. “Every club in this league would expect a player to move on if that is the case but that doesn’t mean we won’t try and keep him here.
“That is going to be our first priority to keep him here as long as we can but that will be down to the powers that be and Temps to have a chat and see if we can. He definitely adds to us but if he continues to do well and others are interested then that’s part of the game. With his deal up in the summer we’ll see how that one goes.”
Canning believes payback for his current employers over what they have done for him will be a factor for Templeton in contract talks with the club.
“He’ll be grateful to Hamilton for giving him the chance to get back playing in the Scottish Premiership,” said Canning. “He’d been at a few places and there weren’t many willing to take a chance and he’s now producing form we believed he could if we could get him up to speed.
“He can be the difference in games and he’s now completed 90 minutes back-to-back and that’s the first time he’s done that for us. He’s getting his fitness up and his sharpness is getting better but there’s more to come and that’s good for us.
“You might be a player on a downturn or someone who’s not doing as well as you’d like to be. But you know you’ve got the talent and we give people the chance to go back to where they were and allow them to showcase themselves and move on again.
“Whether it’s young guys coming through the system or guys who haven’t had the luck in their favour, we’re able to give them that break.”