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Gary Holt confident Livingston are in good shape ahead of the new season

Gary Holt insists Livingston’s unbeaten Betfred Cup campaign has left him confident they can hit the ground running for their Ladbrokes Premiership kick-off.

The Lions start their league campaign with a home encounter with Motherwell on Saturday and, after finishing ninth last season, are desperate to confound the critics who have predicted tough times ahead.

The West Lothian club have lost some key players this summer, with skipper Craig Halkett, defender Declan Gallagher, goalkeeper Liam Kelly and striker Ryan Hardie among those who departed.

However, Holt believes cup wins against Berwick Rangers, Stranraer and Ayr United and a draw with Falkirk have bolstered his confidence in his revamped squad.

The Livingston manager said: “With pre-season games you’re trying to get minutes into the players and systems of play and styles of play and personnel.

“But, with the Betfred Cup, it’s three points, it’s win bonuses, it’s trying to qualify, so you know you need to win the game, you know you need to be at it and it’s not a case of ‘I’m playing the first half and you’re playing the second’.

“The starting XI is the starting XI and we’re trying to play for 90 minutes.

“So, I think that helps, you’re not waiting until the fourth or fifth game of the league season before you say ‘that’s us bedded in’.

“You’re a wee bit more comfortable with what you’ve got.”