ALLAN JOHNSTON believes the 12-12-18 reconstruction plans can only improve Scottish football.

The Irn-Bru Second Division manager of the month for December has watched his Queen of the South players score 17 goals in the last four games to go 14 points clear of their nearest challengers, Alloa Athletic.

It has been a great reward for the bravery of staying full-time in the third tier and the Dumfries side stand to claim a further dividend this summer when the proposed league changes could earn them a spot in the new 12-team second tier, and potentially the chance to battle it out with four Clydesdale Bank Premier League sides for a place in the top flight within six months.

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"My first impression of it is everyone is always going to be challenging for something, you are either going for promotion or relegation, and it will be exciting for the fans," said Johnston. "We all know it needed freshened up, because it gets boring playing against the same teams all the time. It will work out well for teams who are trying to push to get into the Premier League and I can only really seeing it improving Scottish football. It is a massive incentive for us to get promoted."

Having said that, January may be a long month for the Dumfries club, with striker Nicky Clark topping the list of players who have won admiring glances from higher up the football food chain. Clark has already had one crack at the big time with Aberdeen, and Johnston feels the presence of the player's father, Sandy, on his backroom staff will not necessarily be enough to keep his striker at the club.

"It will be Nicky's decision," Johnston said. "But there are loads of young players we have got that can play at a higher level, not just one person. You see the way they have played against Dundee United, Hibs and Rangers. We will try to keep all our players, they are a good age."

Johnston's award comes after a shock to the system in the form of a single-goal defeat early in the month to Alloa. "It was a test of their character," said Johnston, who welcomes Paul Burns back and has just Willie Gibson and Mark Durnan missing for the meeting with Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill this afternoon. "Sometimes you can get complacent when you are winning, but that is one thing they haven't done."