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Hamilton boss Rice sings praises of ‘hard man’ MacKinnon

Brian Rice knows some people only see Hamilton skipper Darian MacKinnon’s hard man image, but for the Accies boss he is a role model to be admired.

The 34-year-old could rack up his 250th appearance for the club if he features against Airdrie on Saturday.

But Rice believes his reputation as a midfield battler does not tell the whole story.

The Hamilton manager said: “Darian as a character is great to have at this club. He’s a leader on the field and off it.

“Deep down into Darian, he cares about football and his performance. He cares about the perception people have of him.

“He’s not the person that some people think. He’s got a lot more to his game than being a hard man.

“It’s a great thing for me that people don’t like playing against Darian MacKinnon. Every time you see a team-sheet with his name on it, you go, ‘Offft’.

“People don’t like playing against him because of the perception that he does this and he does that. But there’s a lot more to his game than some people see.

“Just look at the influence he has on other players. He’s never beaten. He’s a winner and I use him as an example to other kids when we’re working on the training field. Look at him, he’s 34 and doesn’t want to lose. He’s a role model.

“It’s great for me to have someone like that in my side.”

Accies must beat their Lanarkshire rivals at the Excelsior Stadium to clinch a place in the Betfred Cup knock-out stages as one of the best-placed runners up.

But Rice has no plans to keep ears on games elsewhere despite the fact qualification could hinge on goal difference.

The Hamilton boss, who will be without Brian Easton (ankle) and Ronan Hughes (concussion), said: “I’ve never seen an easy game at Airdrie but it’s a game we have to go and win.

“If we do, there’s every chance we could qualify for the next round, so the onus is on us to go get the result we’re after.

“Do we need to consider the goal difference? No we need to win the match first and foremost. Once we do that we can start thinking about the goal difference.

“We can’t affect what’s happening elsewhere we just need to do our bit.

“I won’t have anyone listening in to the other scores. I like to concentrate solely on what we’re doing and not get distracted elsewhere.

“If we win the match it might be good enough but if we don’t, it won’t be.”