BY KYLE GUNN

Anton Ferdinand insists that he is relishing the pressure of his side's relegation battle as he prepares for St Mirren's trip to Hamilton tomorrow afternoon.

The former Sunderland defender returned to the Saints' starting XI for the visit of Celtic on Wednesday - his first run out since February - and while he was frustrated not to take anything from the match against the champions elect, he insists tomorrow's clash with relegation rivals Hamilton is much more important.

The Hoops ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Timothy Weah and Ryan Christie but crucially Oran Kearney’s men never lost any ground in the relegation battle with both Dundee and Hamilton losing - something Ferdinand was quick to pick up on.

He said: “We had a few chances and we frustrated Celtic. To come away with nothing was hard to take. Of the bottom three, we had the hardest game out of them all - but results went our way."

Looking ahead to tomorrow's match at the Hope CBD Stadium, the 34-year-old hope his teammates will follow his lead and embrace the pressure.

READ MORE: Oran Kearney blasts Celtic fans after firecracker incident

"As a kid in the youth team, what did you work hard? To be a professional footballer," Ferdinand told Gazette Sport. "So you need to enjoy and embrace the games where you are under pressure. Your career goes quick. I click my fingers and I'm 17. Now I'm 34. I still remember being on my estate in Peckham growing up - commentating when I was playing on the grass.

“I'd be saying, 'It's Ferdinand on the ball' and now I am living the dream. You need to embrace games like Saturday no matter what age you are. You can't take these games for granted and we need to be confident we are going to stay in the league. As a squad, we want to have the mindset that we will stay up.”

Ferdinand has been involved in many a relegation battle but crucially he has never dropped out of a division.

READ MORE: St Mirren fall to Celtic defeat but results elsewhere go their way

It’s been close a few times mind you, whether that be a Carlos Tevez inspired victory on the last day at Old Trafford with West Ham in 2007 or a narrow defeat at the Etihad as Man City wrapped up their first English Premiership title with QPR five years later. 
And the former West Ham centre-back has pledged to use that experience to help the Buddies beat the drop this season.

The Gazette: The former West Ham defender is looking to use his experience to help Saints beat the dropThe former West Ham defender is looking to use his experience to help Saints beat the drop 
He continued: "I have never been relegated but I have been in battles. With West Ham, we went to Old Trafford on the last day of the season and won to stay up. Carlos Tevez scored that day after we'd gone on a great unbeaten run. I also stayed up with QPR on the last day of the season so I have been in these situations before. The boys are doing everything right and I have a positive outlook. If anyone in our dressing room thinks we won't stay up, there is no point in them being there. We are confident we are going to stay in this league and we want to do that.

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"I am quite vocal in the dressing room and around the training pitch, and during games. We have good young players who can go on to be top players. I take the responsibility to help them but we have a lot of senior guys who can show the way too. I want to pass on my experience and maybe take some pressure off the lads. I don't mind that.”