This piece is from yesterday's Buddies Briefing newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Thursday. To receive our full, free St Mirren newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

As the old adage goes, Jonah Ayunga will be like the proverbial new signing when he returns to competitive action for St Mirren.

The powerful striker, 26, is on the comeback trail after a cruel ACL injury suffered against Motherwell back in January.

And St Mirren supporters will have been delighted to see the towering force back among the goals - even if it was in a bounce game - as he played 45 minutes earlier this week.

There will be no risk taken in Ayunga's return to the pitch with the striker already tied down on a fresh deal until 2026 and Stephen Robinson keen to avoid any rushed injury problems.

However, what is certain when Ayunga returns to full action is that he will face a tricky challenge in nailing down the central striker position he had claimed for the first half of last season.

Robinson hasn't been shy in his verdict on Ayunga, in fact, he's been quite bold in his assertion that "beautiful" Ayunga could turn a serious profit for the club if he hits the levels he is capable of producing.

The only issue in that sense is you have to be playing to put yourself in the shop window, and more importantly, have a positive impact in Paisley. 

For Ayunga, there is expectation and excitement over a return to the first-team setup after fans quickly took to the striker - particularly aided by goals against Celtic and Rangers.

But, impressive displays from Mikael Mandron and Toyosi Olusanya this season mean Ayunga won't easily walk back into the starting XI.

Alex Greive too has shown his qualities in substitute appearances this term and will put up a fight not to be leapfrogged in the pecking order.

On the eye test, for some, it might be a no-brainer for Ayunga to come straight back into the fold when he is fully fit - but stats suggest he could have a fight on his hands.

Cutting-edge StatsBomb figures for the season to date note that Mandron and Greive have significantly overperformed this season with decent scoring contribution statistics to back it up.

Mandron is valued at 0.36 and Greive at 0.63 in their over/underperforming scores which compares goals and assists above expectation this season. 

Their scoring contribution (combined goals scored and direct assists) also clocks in at 0.54 for Mandron and 0.85 for Greive. 

The pair far outrank Olusanya's stats in the data, however, it's important also to consider the immense off-the-ball impact Olusanya has had even if his scoring contribution is significantly lower.

The same too is important to consider when bringing Ayunga into the fold, there is no doubt he brings a huge physical presence - comparable to Mandron - but also offers the running power and threat in behind of Olusanya and Greive.

In that sense, it's not a straightforward decision, and more than likely one that will have to be made on a game-by-game basis with so many effective forward options at Robinson's disposal.

If Ayunga's stats from last season are considered, then he too falls below Mandron and Greive in simple terms of scoring contribution and over/underperformance.

The Kenyan scored -0.09 in performance meaning he scored or assisted fractionally fewer than would have been expected from his minutes last term.

His scoring contribution was ranked at 0.20 meaning through data alone - which is to be taken with a pinch of salt and not the be-all and end-all - Mandron and Greive would be preferred by the computer.

Thankfully, for us all, that's not how football works and I'd expect Ayunga to come back into the matchday squads when he is fully fit and eventually work his way back into the starting spot.

That's not to discredit Mandron, who has been excellent, Olunsanya, who has enjoyed a revival not dissimilar to Curtis Main, or Greive who is continually unfortunate not to claw a starting place due to performances of those ahead of him.

Regardless, despite some fears over the summer, Robinson now has a bustling striker department which can only help going forward for the rest of the season.