St Mirren V Hibernian at St Mirren Park : Match Preview
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McGowan keen to put past behind him
St Mirren midfielder Paul McGowan will be glad to see the end of a difficult season on and off the park but he knows he has to help Saints get out of their predicament in the lower echelons of the Scottish Premiership before he can start looking up again.
McGowan's campaign started as badly as his team's. A week after an opening 3-0 defeat by Inverness, the former Celtic player was arrested for assaulting two policemen during a night out in his hometown of Airdrie.
The prospect of jail hung over him until he was sentenced to 130 hours of unpaid work in January, when McGowan vowed to learn from his mistakes.
But the on-field worries have not cleared and Saints go into Saturday's home match with Hibernian just one point above the relegation play-off place.
The 26-year-old said of the season: "It's been up and down. I've had a lot of personal issues which have been well documented.
"I just want to put that behind me and focus on these last games. Obviously I will be glad to see the end of this season.
"Inconsistency has summed up our season. One week we can beat a team 3-0 and the next week we can get beat 3-0.
"We can't seem to get a run of performances going and it's frustrating, because if you look at our dressing room we have a real team in there and we have just not done enough this season to prove it.
"We can only repay the fans and the manager by getting out this position."
McGowan predicts a fraught finale to the season ahead of a match which could see Saints draw level on 34 points with their visitors.
"It's going to be nerve-racking," said McGowan, who has recovered from the hamstring strain that forced him off during St Mirren's win over Motherwell.
"All teams down there are in a precarious position. If we beat Hibs, they're back in it as well so it's going to be a massive couple of weeks and it's exciting for the league.
"It's frantic. One wee slack pass and the fans are on it, but we all need to stick together as a club and players and we will get through it."
Manager Danny Lennon expects to have a full squad, with goalkeeper Marian Kello making good progress after missing several games with a groin injury.
Hibernian assistant manager Maurice Malpas insists Terry Butcher's side cannot rely on their reputation to save them.
Just two wins since the turn of the year mean the Leith side have only a four-point cushion separating them from the relegation play-offs.
"There is no such a thing as too big a club or too good a squad," Malpas told Press Association Sport.
"We are where we are because of what we have done in the past. That's 33 games we have played now and we would have expected to get more points.
"We haven't done that so we will need to battle away or hope we survive.
"Yeah Hibs are a big club but when you go out on the pitch reputations will go by-the-by. Otherwise it would be a waste of time turning up for some games.
"We need to go out there and be counted and challenge."
Hibs striker Paul Heffernan has been ruled out for the rest of the season after injuring his groin warming up for last week's clash with Aberdeen.
Ryan McGivern is suspended and long-term absentee Paul Hanlon (knee) remains out but Scott Robertson (knee) and James McPake (back) have returned to training, although both are unlikely to feature against the Buddies.
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