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Tricky Thompson rues lack of support in lone striker role

Steven Thompson took one look at the electrical equipment scattered on the floor of the dressing room at St Mirren's training ground and acknowledged that some poor engineer still had a bit of work to do. The striker had earlier glanced at the SPFL Premiership table and realised that his side had better get their sleeves rolled up too.

St Mirren have played 27 matches, won 24 points and sit second bottom of the league, or in the relegation play-off place as it has become this season. They are also three points behind Kilmarnock, the side that visits Paisley this afternoon, and have still to show a level of consistency which would quieten concerns about dropping back out of the top flight this term.

Such agitation will often draw certain cliches to the surface, such as action speaking louder than words. That would not apply to Thompson, though, since the striker this week took his time in identifying precisely where his side have been going wrong and, helpfully, what must be done to rescue a Premiership place which has become increasingly vulnerable.

"The bottom line is that, for most of the season, we've had too many players under-performing," said Thompson, who would absolve teenager John McGinn from criticism. "Up until last weekend, though, there wasn't any real worry about relegation but seeing us sitting second from bottom certainly hit me.

"We need to maybe be a bit braver going forward in terms of the numbers we are getting into the box. Certainly when the ball comes to me or another striker on the pitch, we need to get immediate support to the striker. That hasn't always been the case.

"Playing the lone striker's role, the one that thing that is needed is immediate support. When the ball gets played to you I feel you should have, bare minimum, two or three options that are plainly in front of you that you can drop the ball off to, one touch. We have had difficulty getting the distances between the midfield and the strikers right."

Lee Ashcroft, despite only recently bursting on the scene at Rugby Park at the age of 20, already knows all of Thompson's tricks. "Experienced guys will try a lot of stuff to put young guys off their game," the defender said. "They'll try to get on your case and put you under pressure, they'll give you nudges in the ribs and let you know you're there.

"It's up to you to step up and handle it - this is the big boys' level so you just need to get used to it. You definitely need to get ready to come up against guys like Steven Thompson. If you have done it in training [with Kris Boyd] then you know what you're going to come up against.

"If you've come off better by the end then it's a cracking feeling."

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