Ahead of St Mirren welcoming Ross County to the Simple Digital Arena this weekend, Gary Mackenzie has opened up on a career blighted by injury and has spoken of his short-term goal of nailing down a spot in Jim Goodwin's starting XI. 

From a youngster at Rangers that was never a stranger to the Ibrox treatment table to a veteran in this Buddies team, the experienced centre-half has revealed that recent tests have shown his body is more susceptible to breaking down quickly after even the slightest of knocks. 

The 34-year-old, whose entire career has been constantly interrupted by spells on the sidelines, knows everyone in the game has a shelf life which is why he is desperate to force his way into the team against the Stags and stay there.

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“Throughout my career, not just since I’ve been in at St Mirren, I’ve had set backs from injuries," MacKenzie said. "Even when I was at Rangers I was always picking up injuries. 

"Partly because of the genetics of my body. I’ve had tests done and it seems my body can break down quicker than most people. Throughout my career I’ve been challenged with that, the test of character to come back quite regularly.

“It’s hampered my career at times as well. I think, mentally, it makes you a stronger person and when you do come back, you’ve worked hard to come back. You want to make the most of it, while you’re fit, it gives you an extra boost. You enjoy it and you do your best when you’re on it and hope you get a decent run injury free.”

Looking beyond the game against the men from Dingwall, St Mirren play host to Hibernian next Tuesday with a familiar face set to be in the opposition dugout.

Tuesday's match will see former Saints boss Jack Ross lead out the Edinburgh club for just the second time.

As part of the squad which somehow avoided relegation to the third tier and then went onto win promotion under Ross, MacKenzie couldn’t speak highly enough of the 43-year-old, but he insists the niceties will go out of the window when the game comes around.

He continued: “He was a good man-manager. I remember there were some players at the time, really good players, that were just shot for confidence and struggling. The first thing he did was give people belief back in themselves. It’s not going to change in one game but gradually the confidence does come back.

"I was always one of the more senior players and it didn’t affect me the way it did some of the younger boys, but you could see they weren’t themselves and they were playing within themselves.

"He just gave them the license to go and express themselves and show on the pitch what he knew they could do in training. It’s a tough thing to do.

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"The likes of Stevie Mallan and boys like that, where their confidence was shot going into games and you knew they had so much more. Jack was brilliant at getting the belief back in them and then, after about a month that’s when we kicked on again. We didn’t look back after that and by the final third of the season we were matching teams at the top of the league.

“We’re there to do a job and he’ll be there to do a job. Any friendship or affection that you have for someone goes out the window. I’ll be there doing everything I can to get three points for St Mirren and he’ll be doing the exact same. That’s the nature of the job we’re in.”

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