David Martindale is relieved that his beleaguered Livingston side now have a two-week break to try and sort out their mounting problems.
The Lions sit bottom of the cinch Premiership after losing all four of their games so far.
Their cause hasn’t been helped by the fact they have played three of last season’s top four – Rangers, Aberdeen and Hibs – in their opening fixtures while they have also had to contend with an array of injury and illness issues.
For instance, in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Easter Road, Martindale had to pull on-loan midfielder Ben Williamson out of his squad at the last minute after parent club Rangers raised concerns about the results of a post-Covid blood test.
In addition, striker Bruce Anderson suffered a diabetic fit on the pitch, while Jack Fitzwater and Max Stryjek were both sick in the dressing room.
Martindale remains confident his team – who finished sixth last term – won’t be relegated but he is praying for better fortune after the upcoming international break.
He said: “We certainly haven’t got our troubles to seek. I’m delighted for the international break because it gives us the chance to recover and get bodies back.
“This is probably the hardest period I’ve had as a manager but I’m not worried.
“Do I think we’ll get relegated? No, I don’t. A few people have tipped us to go down, which is fine. We’re expected to get beat.
“Budgets make football clubs. If I had £8million I’d expect to be in the top six.
“So if I’ve got the lowest, it’s fair to say we’ll be tipped to go down, but we’ve defied the odds previously.
“Our objective is to finish 10th in the Premiership and if we do any better, great.
“We’ve played the top four in our first six games. We should have done better against Motherwell at home but do we have a divine right to beat them? No.
“Are we really expected to beat the top four? I don’t think we are. We’re three points away from where I expected us to be and we’ve still got to play all the teams around us.
“I trust the boys we’ve got. When we get a full squad back we’ll be better.”
Hibs manager Jack Ross has no such troubles to contend with as his side sit at the Premiership summit.
The Easter Road side aim to add Middlesbrough defender Nathan Wood on loan and at least one more new face before they head across the city for a mouth-watering showdown with Hearts in the first match after the international break.
Ross said: “That game is a big one anyway, regardless of where the teams are in the league.
“We missed it last season, albeit it wouldn’t have had the same feeling without the supporters, but this coincides with having supporters back in the stadium and us both having a good start to the season so it will be brilliant for the city and the two clubs.
“It is one we are looking forward to as a group.”
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