St Mirren boss Oran Kearney has backed Brian Rice to be his own man after leaving Paisley to become head coach at Hamilton. 

Rice, who was both Kearney and Alan Stubbs' assistant in Paisley, has replaced Martin Canning at Accies after he was dismissed earlier this week.

And the Northern Irishman, who will look to replace the former Inverness and Hibs number two, says he will be indebted to the 55-year-old for his knowledge at the beginning of his Saints tenure. 

He said: “I don’t think you can begrudge him the opportunity to go and be a head coach in his own right. When I spoke to him on Wednesday I thanked him for what he has done for me.

"When I came into this job I didn’t know anybody in Scotland and I knew I needed somebody who knew that environment so I kept Brian on. 

"It’s hard to build a relationship from scratch but Brian is a really good guy and someone I know I will stay in contact with in the future as well. He was a key guy for me to help me get to grips with teams and personnel and everything that you have to get used to quickly when you come to a new football environment.

"He and Gus MacPherson have both been important from that point of view to allow that process to happen, particularly in the immediate first few months. So I thanked him for that.

The Gazette: Rice was appointed as Accies head coach at a press conference yesterday afternoonRice was appointed as Accies head coach at a press conference yesterday afternoon

“I’ll look to replace him, absolutely. It’s a pivotal position at the club and I have some names in mind. Because I’m through that initial phase there’s not as much pressure for it to be someone from a Scottish football background.

"I have a couple in mind and some do tick that box and some don’t but that’s less of an issue the more comfortable I get with my understanding of Scotland. The reliance on somebody like Brian was really important in those first few months but moving forward it’s not the be all and end all.”

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Kearney’s first transfer window as a full time manager has been a busy one, in fact, his phone constantly rang throughout the press conference.

And while he’s been frantically trying to add to his squad, he’s also got the not so insignificant task of getting his current players ready for a trip to face Rangers at Ibrox tomorrow. 

He continued: "If you were to clock in the hours we’ve worked this month, it’s been a savage month.

“On Wednesday I was in at the training ground at 7am and left at 9.30pm. It’s just been a manic month.

“I’m terrible with names and remembering people so any agent I come across I save them in my phone with their name and ‘agent’ beside it.

“That means I can find them quite easily in my phone.

“But I think it’s sitting at around 180 agents now.

“As a manager you’re so reliant on them but at the same time they torture you when they want something, and yet when you're after them for something they might not answer their phone for a couple of days.

“It’s another game and an another opportunity for three points. We went away to Celtic only last week and have to improve on that performance. It wasn’t good that day so we need to make ourselves more combative. I feel we have to adjust better when we go to places like that.

“Rangers have had good form so we know it’s going to be tough.”