ST MIRREN have been doing their homework on possible opponents in the relegation play-off final – but manager Oran Kearney is still hopeful they’ll never have to use it, writes Graeme MacPherson. 

Second-bottom Saints are in line to face the leading Championship hopeful over two legs at the end of the season with their Premiership status on the line.

Kearney revealed they have been keeping tabs on the clubs that will likely be involved but still hoped to be only watching once the ties come around.

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As it stands now, St Mirren will face either Dundee United, Ayr United or Scottish Cup semi-finalists Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Kearney said: “We’re always keeping an eye on it to see how the teams near the top of the Championship are getting on. And the closer they get to the end of their season we’ll do more due diligence on that in case we finish 11th and have to go through the play-offs. But hopefully we’ll be safe by then and can just watch it on the TV.

“Earlier in the season I would probably have settled for a play-off place but while the opportunity is still there to go for tenth we’ll absolutely be fighting for that. The aim is to stay in the league no matter how. Tenth would be beautiful. That would be the nice way to do it. But if it has to be the other way then so be it.”

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With the former Coleraine manager picking up just five points from his first 10 matches after taking over from Alan Stubbs, he admitted he is just relieved that St Mirren are still in with a chance of staying up with five games to go.

He added: “It’s in our own hands in terms of the automatic relegation spot at least so we’re in a better place than we could have been. When you looked at it at Christmas we might not even have got to this point. We could have been 10 or 12 points adrift. To still be in the mix is brilliant and it’s going to be an exciting finish.”

Kearney is used to the league splitting for the last five games as it’s the same back in Northern Ireland, but he admits this is his first experience of fighting it out at the wrong end of the table.

He said: “We have an almost identical league set-up back home but I’ve never been involved in the relegation play-offs. So that would be something different. But we’ll handle that if and when we have to.”

The Buddies travel to face Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena this Saturday as they get set to kick-off their post-split fixture list.

The sides have met three times already this season with Saints running out 1-0 winners in their last meeting back in March.

Gary Holt’s side are one of three in the bottom six along with St Johnstone and Motherwell with little to play for in their remaining fixtures having already amassed enough points to guarantee safety.

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Next up, St Mirren welcome St Johnstone to the Simple Digital Arena on Saturday, April 27 before facing Motherwell on Saturday, May 4.

It then comes down to the final two games of the season as Kearney’s men host relegation rivals Hamilton on Monday, May 13 before a final weekend showdown in Tayside against Dundee on Saturday, May 18.  

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