Jim Goodwin has a reputation which precedes him.

It is wheeled into football grounds wearing a muzzle. The St Mirren midfielder has an image problem in Scottish football the same way that Hannibal Lecter would in an episode of Come Dine With Me, although not everyone views him as a villain. Goodwin is not without his friends either.

The Irishman has been defended already this season by his manager Danny Lennon, while Graham Carey came forward yesterday to defend his former team-mate. The Ross County midfielder shared a dressing room with Goodwin in Paisley and also at Celtic, allowing Carey to get the measure of the man. He does not consider the image of Goodwin as a brute to be a good fit.

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Carey acknowledged that his former team-mate is an intimidating presence on the pitch - and in training, where he was caught by a few bruising tackles during his time at St Mirren - but challenged the perception of Goodwin as a malevolent figure. The pair have remained relatively close outside football and Carey was defended his friend yesterday.

"Jim and I get on well and it will be good to see him again. Hopefully he doesn't have too much impact on the game," said Carey, whose side host St Mirren today. "Jim has this reputation, but it is unfair. If you meet him, he's the nicest guy in the world.

"I just think that's his game. I don't think there is any intent or malice in it. He's there to do a job - break things up - but he's also a good footballer. Unfortunately, people have highlighted some tackles but it is really not who he is. He's a lovely guy and I just think he's been unlucky with some of the stick he's been getting.

"I think often he's been unfairly treated. Maybe he would say himself he's a bit late in some of the tackles, but there's no malice in it. Then again, I've been on the receiving end of one or two in training so I'll try to avoid him [today]."

It was perhaps not surprising then that Goodwin was robust in challenging his critics - with Derek Adams, the County manager, having intimated that the midfielder should have been sent off when the clubs last met, in November. The St Mirren captain stood up to the suggestion that he is too aggressive and also booted out the idea that his style puts opposing players at risk of injury.

"Listen, I don't go out on the park on a Saturday to make friends, but I certainly don't go out to make enemies either," said Goodwin. "I just go out to play a game of football and do my best for my team-mates and my club and try to win the game. I'll get stuck in but I expect my opponent to get stuck in as well. When the game is over, we shake hands and move on."

The most high-profile incident which involved Goodwin this season came in a match with Dundee United. The St Mirren midfielder was seen to strike Stuart Armstrong with his forearm and received a retrospective two-match suspension from the Scottish Football Association.

"I have only got myself to blame in terms of what I did during the game and I apologised to the lad Armstrong for that," he said. "But it's a long time ago now and I've moved on. It was difficult for me at the time but I've just got to learn from it and move on."