STEVIE THOMPSON has revealed that his hunger for football is as strong now as it has ever been.
The 33-year-old is undergoing his 17th professional pre-season but says that his career best goal return of 16 strikes last term has rekindled his appetite for the beautiful game.
Thommo's determination to lead his hometown club to a SPL top six finish and wipe out the frustrations of last term's eighth-place finish is palpable.
The former Scotland striker has also backed Saints trio of new signings Sam Parkin, Lewis Guy and Jon Robertson to help bridge the gap between the bottom half of the table and the upper reaches.
Thompson said: "It is hard to believe that this is my 17th pre-season as a professional. My first was back in 1996 when I was a kid at Dundee United and when you look at all the water that has gone under the bridge since then it is scary.
"But I can honestly say that my appetite for the game has never been greater. A lot of that is down to coming back to play with St Mirren, my hometown team and because I scored 16 goals last season, which was, goals wise, the best of my career.
"Because I am determined to build on that next season I made sure I trained every other day before we started back and although the first week back is always tough I have been more than ready for it.
"I feel with a another full pre-season behind me I can take things on again."
The talismanic Thompson has been impressed with how the Saints new boys Lewis Guy, Jon Robertson and Sam Parkin have fitted in to the Paisley pattern.
He said: "I think the big thing for us with each of the new boys is that they will all address areas where we have maybe struggled. The gaffer has shown he has an eye for a signing when you look at the likes of Darren McGregor plus Jeroen Tesselaar and Nigel Hasselbaink last season.
"I think that in the three boys that have come in we are going to gain in terms of versatility and also with competition for places. Lewis trained with us a fair bit last season and had already fitted in well.
"But Sam is a great lad and he gives us the option of playing two big guys up front. Lewis gives us something different again in that he plays off the shoulder and in Jon Robertson we are gaining legs and a real hunger in the central areas."
Thompson is already looking forward to the Buddies Spanish training camp next week.He explained: "Going away and training in the sun is invaluable. The weather here has been pretty horrific and to be looking at maybe getting in three training sessions a day over there is a huge bonus.
"Also with the new guys it will help integrate them even more. We have games against Barnsley and a Spanish fourth division side so our preparation will really be taken to a new level.
"I think the day you stop getting excited by all of that is the day you call time. But I am glad to say I have never been hungrier for a new campaign to start."