Brian Rice aims to be Hamilton’s “12th man” against Motherwell as he prepares to return to the dugout.
The Hamilton head coach has served his five-match touchline ban for betting offences ahead of Saturday’s Lanarkshire derby at the Foys Stadium.
“I feel as though I’m the 12th man when I’m out there,” Rice said. “I feel part of it. I want the boys to see me when they look across and hear me encouraging them and getting into them.”
Hamilton’s run without a victory stretched to seven matches during Rice’s ban.
“It’s been a difficult situation but it’s past now so I am back down in amongst it with the boys,” he said.
“It’s frustrating all the time, it doesn’t matter where you are – side of the pitch, up in the stands. But I think it’s important I am down there. It’s the place I belong.”
While Rice is returning closer to the action, a number of his players will be missing with defenders Aaron McGowan and Sam Woods both picking up injuries in the past week.
The former Hibernian midfielder believes Scottish football must reduce the burden on players after his side played eight games in 28 days after the winter break.
Rice, whose team won at Fir Park on December 29, said: “If you look at the team that started against Motherwell and who we have now, we are decimated.
“It’s a tough time of year. There are far too many games in a short period of time for a club like ourselves.
“Right this minute in time, I don’t know who’s going to be fit and who’s not going to be fit. We will need to see who comes through training and there are quite a few long-term injuries.
“There’s a lot of games and it’s very expensive for fans. (St Mirren manager) Jim Goodwin made a very good point the other day: how can we not move towards summer football in some shape or form?
“I don’t mean exactly copy what they do in Ireland but it’s got to come some time.
“We need to look after the fans. I feel for the fans at this time of year, we get by Christmas and New Year, which is always a hard time for people money wise, and then we give them seven or eight games in February.
“I appreciate it’s really difficult for the people who compile the fixtures with the amount of cup games, European games, but the proof is in the pudding with the amount of injuries teams are getting. People’s bodies are breaking down.
“We keep talking about sports science and looking after people and proper recovery. It’s not happening. It can’t happen with the amount of games we are playing.”
Meanwhile, Rice was delighted to see Jamie Hamilton’s third red card of the season rescinded.
The defender will miss Saturday’s game because of a prior sending off but has avoided a three-match ban following his red card against Hearts.
“I’m delighted for the boy because in my opinion it was a very harsh sending off,” Rice said. “I’m delighted we got a wee bit of luck for once. The kid was distraught. He is 17. It’s his first season.”
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