FOOTBALL management has always been a bit of a balancing act. Fitness, injuries, and suspensions were enough of a juggling act, throw Covid into the mix and it's a nightmare for managers.

That's why Jim Goodwin has given his St Mirren players and staff a two-word pre-season plea; be sensible.

The Buddies were one of the first clubs rocked by coronavirus cases last year meaning Goodwin knows all about the difficulties even a false negative can bring, so it's understandable that while he's urging his players to enjoy relaxed freedoms there remains a looming air of nervousness.

Goodwin, who said his players and backroom team will be allowed to make their own decision on getting the coronavirus vaccine, has already faced his first Covid disruption this term when Dumbarton were forced to forfeit the scheduled Premier Sports Cup clash.

An internal 11 v 11 match between the Buddies' players solved that problem, but Goodwin has urged the authorities to find a better solution which avoids teams losing their full squad.

"I don't know what the alternative is to what we're already doing", Goodwin admitted.

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"But what I would like to see happening is if a player or member of staff tests positive it shouldn't wipe out half your team. If we're all sticking to the guidelines as we should be doing then there shouldn't be a need to lose four or five members of the team.

"I think whoever tests positive, absolutely they need to go and do their ten days isolation but I think the rest of the group should just have to do a PCR test and if it comes back negative the rest of those guys should be allowed to stay part of the team.

"It is going to be very difficult this year if that rule stays in place for games to be fulfilled because Dumbarton couldn't fill a team at the weekend, and if the same thing happens in another month or twos time then we are going to have a load of postponements."

St Mirren kick-off their competitive season against Dunfermline in the cup tonight in front of 500 lucky fans, and while a huge amount of preparation has gone into football matters, Goodwin said players have to be just as committed to being responsible off the pitch.

"I think it is going to be more of a challenge this season", he said.

"There comes a point where players and staff need to take ownership of the situation, there is only so much the football club can do while the guys are here.

"It's the other 18 hours in the day when they are not here that we need to make sure they are being sensible.

"I don't want to discourage them from socialising, I think it's a really important part of people's lives and I certainly don't want them being locked up at home for the next ten months because I think mentally that can have a negative impact.

"I'm very much of the mindset that we encourage the guys to go out and eat together and do things with their partners and girlfriends but just be sensible with it. Don't be going back to house parties and in a lot of company."

St Mirren fans could be given their first look at new signings Charles Dunne, Greg Kiltie, Curtis Main, Scott Tanser and Alan Power, but Goodwin warned it may be a few weeks before any further players are brought in.

He added: "We probably won't get anyone in by the end of this week but we are working on one or two. Hopefully in another fortnight or so we should have another one or two faces in."