JACK ROSS has cited the influence of Stephen McGinn on St Mirren’s astonishing transformation as virtually immeasurable as the Buddies close in on the Championship title and a return to the top flight.

The St Mirren manager is well aware that McGinn had offers to remain in England when he was leaving Wycombe Wanderers last season but still chose to return to his old club when they were facing the dreaded prospect of dropping to the third tier.

Ross also freely admits that the 29-year-old should be playing at a higher level but he hopes that will be with St Mirren in the Premiership next season as a new deal will be put on the table.

Ross and McGinn are celebrating an awards double after landing the Ladbrokes Championship manager and player of the month for January. And with Saints 14 points clear it looks like there will be an even bigger party in April.

Ross said: “I can’t speak highly enough of him as a player and as a person. We obviously played together at St Mirren but that was a long time ago.

“He took a big decision to come back north and join a team bottom of the Championship when he had other options and I also dumped the captaincy on him.

“I don’t think he had been a captain before. So his performances over the period have been terrific and how he has handled the pressures and responsibilities.

“He has played a massive part in our success and I think he has thrived on the responsibility.

“He’s also probably playing at a level below what he is capable of so he needs something to excite him and that’s driving this club forward.

“You need key figures in your team to get your message across on the park and Stephen has done that very well.

“I’m lucky we are close and have a good relationship and I see a lot of myself in him.

“I can see why I was a pain in the a*** to a lot of managers because I questioned things and he does that as well.

“He obviously has the emotional pull as well and I know that if we achieve what we want it will mean a hell of a lot to him and rank with anything he has achieved.”

McGinn has yet to be offered terms for next season but that would seem like a formality, especially if Saints go on to win the title as expected.

Ross added: “There is dialogue on-going in terms of a new contract. It’s a little bit difficult for us because naturally our planning is dictated by which league you’re in.

“But we are both fairly relaxed about it because he enjoys it and I enjoy having him here.”

It’s remarkable to think that just over a year ago Saints were seven points adrift at the foot of the Championship .

And Ross says his players deserve all the credit in the world for turning things around.

He said: “Because I’m living it and immersed in it every day it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate the turnaround.

“Even over the summer period I never really reflected on what we’d done because I wanted to make sure we were best prepared for this season.

“I had always said the reason I took the job was to take the club back to the Premiership.

“I wasn’t patting myself on the back for finishing seventh, it was about trying to get promotion. What the players have done in this period has been remarkable and they deserve every plaudit they receive.”