Scott Paterson: Jags will battle on despite injury woes

THERE is never a good time of the season to lose players to injury, but we have been hit hard this year.

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Stephen O'Donnell will miss the rest of the Premiership season because of a hip problem
Stephen O'Donnell will miss the rest of the Premiership season because of a hip problem

Having lost Sean Welsh and Isaac Osbourne earlier in the campaign, we will now be without Stephen O'Donnell for the last five games, and it is touch and go whether Aaron Muirhead will play again this season.

It is never ideal when you lose a couple of players in the same area of the field, but we have to get on with it and the boys who are fit will do a good job between now and the end of the season.

We will certainly not be using it as an excuse. We have to deal with it and I am sure we will.

Stephen has played a lot of games for us this year, but he had to have an operation on his hip last week and won't feature again this season, unfortunately.

It is a blow for Archie [manager Alan Archibald] and me not to have him available, but it is a sore one for Stephen, who has done well for us and was looking to finish the campaign well.

We might still be able to call on Aero before we round off the Premiership fixtures in a few weeks after he had surgery last week. He played for a while with the problem in his knee, but it got to the stage where we had to get him in for the surgery.

He is a fit lad, though, and, after getting himself back in the gym, he might be able to start jogging next week. The last thing we want to do is rush players back.

All the boys are eager to play and want to contribute, but we have to make sure that they are ready to return when we bring them back. There is nothing worse than coming back too early and you end up doing more damage in the long-term.

The one bonus we have on the injury front at the moment is Conrad Balatoni. He has trained this week and we will continue to assess him to see when he is able to be included in the squad again. It was good to have him back training over the last few days and we will see how he goes.

It was a freak injury he had; he had a problem with a hand and had to have an operation. It has kept him out for a couple of weeks, but he seems to have recovered quite quickly and, like all the boys, is determined to play. It would be a real boost to have him back.

After a free weekend, we return to action on Saturday for what is is a massive day for all the teams involved in the bottom six and looking to avoid the play-off position.

We have got a really tough game at Kilmarnock and I think it will be a tense affair for both teams. But we know that our destiny is in our own hands and we have just got to go into this game, and all the games, looking to do what we are good at.If we do that, I am confident we can get enough points out of these games to avoid eleventh place.

Kilmarnock will be looking at it in the same way, though. They are just above us in the table and will be thinking a win might see them okay.

But it is too tight to call and everyone is capable of beating everyone else over the next few weeks. We will certainly go there with confidence.

There will be pressure on the home team, but it will come down to who plays the best on the day and who handles the occasion and the expectation.

I know the boys can pick up the points needed if they play to their potential and hopefully we can get off to the ideal start on Saturday.


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