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Nathan Thomas working hard to secure regular spot in Hamilton’s line-up

Carlisle United v Cardiff City – FA Cup – Third Round – Replay – Brunton Park
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Nathan Thomas is playing fitness catch-up to get himself into Hamilton’s starting line-up.

The 26-year-old attacker joined Accies from Sheffield United last month after a potential move to Australia broke down over visa issues.

Thomas, described by boss Brian Rice as a “game changer”, had not played since March before signing and was substituted after half-time in his debut against Stranraer on November 11.

He then made substitute appearances in recent matches against Kilmarnock and Hibernian.

Ahead of the bottom-of-the-Premiership clash with Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday – Hamilton are one point ahead – Thomas said: “It was difficult at first because I wanted to play straight away but I was nowhere near physically ready to do that.

“So it has been a case of trying to pile as much in to a short period of time. Trying to do a mini pre-season and cram six-to-eight weeks’ worth of training into three weeks.

“I have worked with the conditioning team and the physios to push me as high as I can go without breaking down but then still be at the point where I can get on the pitch on a Saturday at some point.

“We are over the hardest part of it which is getting the miles back in the legs and we are at the point where I don’t think I am that far away from being able to be involved a lot more.

“We have had a full week of training and looking forward. We looked good in training, we set up what we want to do and hopefully we can go there and take three points.”

Rice stressed the importance of hard work in the battle to get up the table.

He said: “Hard work is your essence for everything, that is your foundations. The harder you work the luckier you get, that’s the old saying, isn’t it?

“You have to put the hard work in here from Monday to Friday and hopefully it pays dividends on a Saturday.

“We know it is going to be very difficult up there. It is important that we go up there and be resolute and hard to beat and hopefully we do enough to win the match.”