ST MIRREN midfielder Stevie Mallan has credited central midfield partner Stephen McGinn for helping his recent return to form.

Mallan capped a dream week in which he made his Scotland debut for the under-21s against Estonia with a goal and a starring role in St Mirren's 6-2 demolition of relegation rivals Ayr United on Saturday.

Things might have been so different for the 21-year-old as he looked set for a January switch to English Championship side Barnsley.

But the move fell through at the last minute. However plenty of deals were rubber stamped at the Paisley 2021 Stadium that month with 10 new arrivals including the return of McGinn.

Since then the pair have formed a formidable partnership in midfield as the Buddies have given themselves every chance of Championship survival with five wins from their last seven games and Mallan hailed the influence of the club captain since his arrival.

He said: "The new players coming in January brought a freshness to the squad. A big thing for me was when McGinn came in, he brought in that fight that we lacked in midfield.

"Our midfield was quite young, especially with Rocco Quinn getting injured. He (McGinn) has helped me kick on a lot.

"Everyone is thriving off each other and it has lifted the whole squad, everyone can see how well we can play."

The mauling of second-bottom Ayr was St Mirren's biggest win of the season and takes Jack Ross' side to within three points of safety and one of the Honest Men having played a game less than the teams above them.

Mallan admitted his goal inside the first five minutes settled some nerves among the Saints squad.

He said: "The way we played was amazing, that's what we wanted to do was get goals early so we can relax a bit because it has been a nervous week, it's the biggest game of the season for us and the manner in which we played was brilliant."