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Rice warns players over relegation if they continue to play with fear

Brian Rice has told his players they will not maintain their Ladbrokes Premiership status by being negative as he bids to take the fear out of their play ahead of Saturday’s bottom three clash with St Mirren.

Rice felt his players were stymied by fear during Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat at Livingston and did not start playing until Craig Halkett scored the second goal in the 79th minute.

Saturday offers Hamilton the chance to move seven points ahead of second-bottom St Mirren and Rice wants his players to focus on that rather than fearing the consequences of defeat or making mistakes.

“It’s my job to try and take that away from them,” he said.

“It’s human nature, they don’t want to be the ones making mistakes in crucial games. I just want to get it through to them, we can put up with mistakes as long as they are honest mistakes, as long as they are trying to be positive. At least we are trying.

“We are making mistakes by being too negative in the last couple of games.

“I don’t know where that’s come from because you will not get anyone more positive than me. I have 100 per cent trust in them. It’s my job to get them ready for Saturday and play with that Hamilton spirit I keep talking about.

“This town deserves a Premiership club, these fans deserve Premiership football, and it’s our job to make sure they’ve got that. That’s the message I am drumming into them.

“You won’t get that by playing the ball back and not playing with confidence. Go and play with that freedom, get the ball forward, get crosses in, get shots.”