KENNY McLEAN today handed St Mirren a massive boost ahead of tomorrow's SPL kick-off by pronouncing himself fit for the league opener against Inverness.
The outstanding young midfielder had suffered slight knee-tissue damage, but came through his first training session on Tuesday without any reaction.
Now the 20-year-old is relishing the prospect of playing a key part in the Buddies' bid to get the better of a team that won three of last season's four meetings between the sides and drew the other.
With Buddies skipper Jim Goodwin, star striker Stevie Thompson and stopper Marc McAusland all suspended for the visit of Terry Butcher's hard-to-beat Highlanders, McLean could be handed a key central role by boss Danny Lennon as he bids to get the new campaign off to a flyer.
McLean said: "There was a problem with some damage to the knee tissue and it was a bit niggling, but I came through my first couple of training sessions and everything was fine and now I am just hoping to play a part against Caley Thistle.
"It was frustrating to miss the tour games against Carlisle and Accrington Stanley, but the priority is to be fit for tomorrow and hope-fully that is on the cards."
The Saints starlet has admitted the loss of Goodwin alongside last term's top scorer Thompson and centre-back McAusland is a triple hammer blow that the Buddies could well have done without against a side they have found exceptionally hard to get the better of.
McLean said: "They are three big players for us who all made a massive contribution last term. I don't know how the gaffer will play it with midfield, but Jim has a very specific role sitting in front of the defence and really anchoring things and he will be a miss. Jon Robertson has come in from Cowdenbeath and done well and we do have options in the middle of the park,"
"Stevie had an outstanding season for us last time around and we are lucky that we have managed to bring in Lewis Guy and Sam Parkin to fill in for Stevie's role.
"So although you'd want all three of the boys available we have some pretty decent cover in place."
Turning his attention specifically to the Caley challenge, McLean admitted Saints are thirsting for revenge after being unable to record a win against them last season.
He said: "There was nothing in any of them but we felt that we just didn't do ourselves justice against them. So we have all the motivation in the world for tomorrow.
"We are at home, it is the start of the new campaign and we feel we have a point to prove against Inverness. Hopefully the punters will turn out in their numbers to help us achieve just that."