Brian Rice will build his Hamilton side around youth next season

Brian Rice will be putting his faith in youth next season regardless of Hamilton’s fate.

The Lanarkshire club are four points ahead of second-bottom St Mirren whom they face in Paisley on Monday night.

With just two  Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures remaining – and Dundee already relegated – Hamilton will escape a play-off spot with just a draw at The Simple Digital Arena but Rice is already looking ahead.

The former Buddies assistant manager, who joined Hamilton in January, said: “I have always encouraged the youth. I discussed that before I came in.

“I love to see that at a club and that’s what provincial clubs are all about.

“Youth is the heartbeat and we will be going down the youth route.

“I want to see natural enthusiasm and the kids here give it that.

“A lot of people tend to go with experience, I see it differently.

“I like the kids, the enthusiasm, the energy they give the older lads.

“It doesn’t matter which division we are in next season, I will be building a young squad full or energy, hunger, enthusiasm but players who are able to play.

“Obviously I will need to supplement that with good older pros but the average age of the squad will come right down.

“We are planning ahead for two or three years, I am not looking to just next season but beyond that and if it takes us two or three years to get to where we want to get to then so be it.”

Rice noted that attacker James Keating, who left Hamilton during the week, would be followed by others as he reshapes his squad.

He said: “James has moved on, opportunities limited. He is a terrific talent but needs to be playing football.”