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McGowan looking forward despite uncertain future

THE most important fixture in Paul McGowan's immediate diary takes place away from the football field.

Marian Kello has agreed to stay at  St Mirren  for the  rest of the season
Marian Kello has agreed to stay at St Mirren for the rest of the season

The St Mirren forward is due in court next week to discover his fate after pleading guilty last month to attacking two police officers.

With a similar previous conviction already to his name, McGowan can only hope for a lenient sentence. The 26 year-old, though, is not letting his pending court date trouble him. He has remained in the St Mirren side since his guilty plea and continues to play with the sort of enthusiasm that has made him a pivotal figure in Danny Lennon's plans.

If fit and well, McGowan will open the new year by lining up against Kilmarnock tomorrow, then former club Celtic on Sunday. After that he will be back in court to learn his fate but insists it is not something that is playing on his mind. "It will be dealt with and that's it," he said. "I am fine playing just now. I won't let anything affect me playing. The gaffer and the club have been great with me."

McGowan will be key to the Paisley club's aspirations of breaking into the top six in the second half of the campaign. After a desperately poor start to the term, Lennon's side have belatedly found some form, especially at home where they are unbeaten in eight matches. The next two games, however, will again test their credentials.

"We know how close we are to the top six," said McGowan. "It is quite close between us, St Johnstone and Hibs. We will dust ourselves down because we know we have a tough game against Kilmarnock. And if they beat us, they leapfrog us. Considering the start we had to the season, it just shows you how tight the league is. A couple of good results gets you right back in it. We want to be in the top six and that is where we believe we should be. But it is all about consistency with us."

The arrival of striker Adam Campbell on loan from Newcastle United should, in theory, put McGowan's place in jeopardy but he is not fazed by the prospect. "The more competition for positions, the better," he said. "Teams like Dundee United have really competitive squads; just look at their players on the bench. It will be good to freshen things up and it will be something different. Hopefully, he can come in and do well for us."

McGowan has struck up a useful forward partnership with Steven Thompson, even if it is the elder of the pair who is claiming all the glory. "Everything just seems to drop for him, it's incredible," he said. "I seem to do all the leg work and he puts the ball away. I have asked him if there is any chance of him setting up one or two for me but he obviously doesn't have that in his locker. I can't speak highly enough of him and who knows where we would be without his goals. Long may it continue."

St Mirren will once again have Marian Kello in goal tomorrow after the Slovakian internationalist agreed to extend his stay until the end of the season, a move that greatly pleased Lennon. "Marian is the type of player we want," said the St Mirren manager. "He has great ability, is a tremendous character and he has brought a great presence and confidence to the group.

"He is an outstanding professional with a great work ethic and I think it is fair to say Marian has been a big part of the turnaround that we have had and I'm certainly glad that we have secured his services."

St Mirren have also terminated the loan agreements with David Cornell, Jake Caprice and Stephane Bahoken, with all three returning to their parent clubs.

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