Hamilton’s Martin Canning hopes to stay in dugout

MARTIN Canning is set to confine himself to the Hamilton dugout for the rest of the campaign to prepare for next season.

Hamilton player/manager Martin Canning. Picture: SNS
Hamilton player/manager Martin Canning. Picture: SNS

Accies’ player/manager was available for the trip to Kilmarnock on Saturday after serving a two-game suspension.

But having secured the club’s Scottish Premiership status the previous week with a 2-0 win over Motherwell - his first victory in 14 games since taking over from Alex Neil in January - he stayed on the sidelines.

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A deserved 3-2 win over the struggling home team thanks to goals from Jason Scotland, Darian MacKinnon and substitute Nigel Hasselbaink kept Hamilton in seventh place, five points ahead of Partick Thistle with three games remaining.

Canning will use those matches to give more game time to some youngsters and his Brazilian transfer window signing defender, Lucas Tagliapietra, who again came on as a late substitute at Rugby Park.

The 33-year-old said: “I thought the boys did really well against Motherwell and I’d like, if I can, to give big Lucas and some of the younger boys an opportunity to play before the end of the season.

“So I thought the best thing to do was to leave myself out and let Lucas and the boys (Eamonn Brophy, Greg Docherty, Craig Watson) sit on the bench.

“Obviously I wasn’t able to get the kids on but I would like to try to get them on in the remaining games.

“I am not saying I am out for the rest of the games yet, I will wait and see how things develop in terms of injuries.

“But if everybody stays fit I will probably leave myself out between now and end of the season.

“We are in a comfortable position in the league in terms of we are safe and that was our main goal.

“I will continue to train and if needed I will be there to play but if I can get some of the Under-20s on to the pitch that will be great.

“I am definitely not chucking it (altogether).

“I am in good shape, physically fit, it is nothing to do with my body, it is more about planning ahead.”

After taking the lead in the eighth minute through a Lee Ashcroft header, Killie slumped and although substitute Greg Kiltie pulled it back to 3-2 with a strike in the 77th minute, the visitors held out with a degree of comfort.

Consequently, Gary Locke’s side are just six points ahead of relegation play-off candidates Motherwell whom they play at Fir Park on Friday night.

The Killie boss said: “The players are well aware of the situation.

“We need to stick together, dig in and make sure we get a result next Friday.”