Alan Archibald has revealed that his preparations for tomorrow’s top-six crunch match at Kilmarnock have been hampered by injuries, with just NINE players training for most of the week.

The Jags boss has been without a host of first-team regulars this week, with kids being drafted in to make up the numbers.

He is hoping though that the likes of Abdul Osman and Stevie Lawless, who were forced off after picking up knocks against Inverness last week, will recover in time to face the Rugby Park side.

“We’ve only had nine on the training pitch so it’s been tough,” he said. “We picked up two injuries last week in the game and there are other guys carrying injuries too.

“The break can’t come quick enough for us. We had 12 today including kids, so that’s the first time we’ve had double figures this week.

“All we could do was shooting! There’s not much you can do in terms of working on shape or technically. We’re lop-sided in terms of personnel between defenders and attackers, so we’ll need to try to squeeze in as much as we can tomorrow and we’re still waiting to see if players are going to be fit.

“Stevie Lawless and Abdul Osman haven’t trained with us yet, but we’ll give them until the last minute. We’ll wait and see, but whatever we’ve got we’ll hopefully have enough there to go and win us the match.

“Regardless of who we get out on the pitch, we showed on Saturday that the guys coming off the bench like David Amoo and Ade Azeez gave us a bit of quality.

“We’ll need everybody but we’re in confident mood.”

Despite his potential injury worries, Archibald was not for playing down the significance of tomorrow’s game.

He doesn’t think that the match will be decisive in terms of making the top six, but the Jags gaffer has made it clear to his players that the outcome will go a long way towards making that target.

“It’s huge, it’s a massive game,” he said. “It’s strange because the last time we played them we were at the bottom end of the league and they weren’t far above us.

“Obviously, things have moved on, they’ve changed their manager and we’ve won a few games, and now we’ve got a chance to open up a gap.

“That’s what it is essentially, another massive six-pointer, and I seem to be saying that to the players every week. It’s another big game and they are just getting bigger.

“I think it will be a totally different type of game from the last time because both teams will be going to win the game. As I said, it’s huge.”

The importance of tomorrow’s game may be reflected by the level of nerves on show from the players, but Archibald hopes that the spectacle for the supporters doesn’t suffer as a result.

He has challenged his players to express themselves, saying that the pressure of their situation doesn’t compare to fighting it out at the bottom of the table.

“It’s more enjoyable than when we went down there after the split last year when it was a relegation battle,” he said.

“If we had lost that, I think we were back to two points and essentially we won the game that put them in the play-offs. That’s worse nerves, that’s panic time.

“It’s a better place to be, but there will be nerves and I just hope the quality doesn’t go from it.

“We played Hamilton a few weeks ago and there wasn’t much quality in the game because there was so much at stake, so I hope that doesn’t happen and I hope we find a bit of quality to go and win the game.

“We have to get our creative players involved and make sure we get the ball to them.”