Saints star's hopes for a central perk

Kenny McLean hopes his match-winning performance against St Johnstone will earn him a starting run in his favoured central midfield role.

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The 19-year-old has now started the last four games for St Mirren – his best run in the top team since making the breakthrough last term.

But after Buddies boss Danny Lennon switched him from the left to a more central role at McDiarmid Park, McLean clearly revelled in the new position and was unlucky not to claim more than his decisive 81st-minute winner.

The youngster was outstanding pushing forward with the timing of his runs and the strength he showed to burst through the Perth rearguard, on more than one occasion, a standout feature.

McLean said: "The gaffer gave me a more central role and I really enjoyed it. I felt I got a lot more of the ball and could influence play a lot more than when I have been playing wide left.

"Having Jim Goodwin sitting in behind me did give me the confidence to bomb forward. Plus, when you have someone like Steven Thompson winning the ball in the air you are always going to get knockdowns in good positions and that is the way it panned out for the goal.

"My natural inclination is to attack, though, and I just felt I had the freedom to do that. So hopefully I have done enough to impress the gaffer and will get the nod to stay in the role for the visit of Hearts this weekend."

While Saints have regularly dominated possession against all-comers this season they have, at times, lacked penetration. McLean's ability to get beyond his strikers added an extra dimension to the Paisley pattern going forward.

The youngster was in no mood to play down the significance of the victory in Perth and said: "Obviously we had lost three of our last four games and particularly the defeat to Ayr in the Communities Cup was a very painful one to swallow.

"We knew we needed to provide a response at Perth and show a bit of character and we believe we did that.

"I think that, aside from set-pieces, St Johnstone did not really open us up and we were very solid defensively. They had been on a very good run and we can take a lot of confidence from the fact that we won and that it is the second time we have done so at McDiarmid Park this season.

"Now it is Hearts at our place on Saturday and we need to back up the win at St Johnstone.

"Home form is vital to any side's hopes of having a good season and after losing our last home league game to Hibs, and then the cup-tie with Ayr, it is vital we take three points.

"The fans have been great with the boys. Their backing was tremendous at Perth and now we need to get them involved."

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