St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin believes his Czech goalkeeper, Vaclav Hladky, is the best stopper in the Scottish top flight. 

The 28-year-old was subject of a £200k offer from Qarabag this summer which St Mirren knocked back but Goodwin is realistic enough to know that the keeper, who signed an 18-month deal with the Paisley side in January, will remain on the radar of various clubs throughout Europe.

Hladky kept St Mirren in the Premiership at the end of last season with three penalty saves in the play-off final against Dundee United and Goodwin is enthused by the prospect of having the keeper at the club for another season. 

“I’m not being disrespectful to any of the guys at Celtic or Rangers or Joe Lewis at Aberdeen for that matter,” he said. 

!Prior to coming in I had a fair idea of how good Vaclav was. I had seen him live three times last season’s and then I watched both play-off games on the telly.

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“I just can’t get over how good he is. If he was three or four inches taller he would probably be playing down in the English Premier League. We know we are going to have a job on our hands to hang on to him. I’m confident we’ll keep him for the rest of the season.

“It would be stupid now of us to sell him when we don’t have enough time to replace him. I’m led to believe a bid came in from Qarabag few weeks ago.It was it anywhere near where we would expect it to be.

“In fairness to Vaclav he could easily have thrown his toys out of the pram and demanded to go and speak to them because financially it would have been a rewarding one for him no doubt.

“He knows how much we value him, his confidence is high and he is playing probably the best football of his career at the moment. His contract is up at the end of the season. Hindsight is a great thing, it’s a pity we didn’t sign him on a five-year deal with a million pound get-out clause.

“He and his agents aren’t daft. They have come here to put him in the shop window.If that works out well for both parties then great. For the time being we are delighted to have him. 

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"We need to be realistic about it, he has done good for the club and hopefully will do again this year.But if somebody bigger and better comes along and is going to age him a financial offer that is too good to turn down we can’t deny him that opportunity.”

Hladky can expect to showcase his abilities this afternoon as St Mirren host Rangers. Saints served up a surprise last weekend with a win over Aberdeen with similar levels of organisation required if there are to engineer anything from this afternoon’s meeting.

Rangers have enjoyed a positive start to the campaign with Goodwin keen to upset the applecart of his opposite number whom he once enjoyed watching from the sidelines.

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“I hate when you read, 'I'm a fan of Steven Gerrard' and all that,” said Goodwin. 

“But I can't deny I was brought up a Liverpool fan. Where I come from in the south of Ireland, 90% are Celtic fans but everybody has an English team and mine's was Liverpool. 

"My older brother who was five years older than me was a massive red and I just grew up watching DVDs of Kenny Dalglish and all that kind of stuff. 

“When I was living in Manchester, for the eight years I was down there, we tried to get over to Anfield as often as we could. We went to a few Champions League nights, one of the games in the build-up to Turkey and was pleased to be part of that. What he's done as a player for Liverpool is quite incredible.

"He's not surprised me but he's adapted to management like a duck to water because I know how difficult it is going from playing into managing, having done it at Alloa, and I thought that was good stepping stone for me but to go straight in at the deep end at a club of the magnitude of Rangers, where the expectation is so big, you've got to give him credit for that.”