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MacKenzie happy to have taken his time with his recovery

Gary MacKenzie believes a delayed return to the St Mirren side after a lengthy spell on the sidelines allowed him to hit the ground running.

By the time the 33-year-old defender took to the field for the crucial 2-1 home win over Ladbrokes Premiership relegation rivals Dundee on March 30 he had been out for the best part of the year after recovering from an Achilles injury.

The former Dundee, Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers player has since played and impressed in two more games, a 3-1 win at Livingston and 1-1 draw against St Johnstone in Paisley, which have helped Saints go seven points clear of the Dens Park side, bottom of the table, and two behind Hamilton, with three games remaining.

Ahead of the trip to Motherwell on Saturday, MacKenzie said: “Probably what helped me was the boys having an upturn in form because that probably gave me an extra month of training with the lads and although it is not the same as match sharpness, it helps me and build a platform for my fitness.

“Maybe if I had been thrown in a wee bit earlier I  possibly might have struggled but I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

” I have been happy with the way I have played since the gaffer put me and happy to pick up some points.

“It is good to be injury free. Anyone who has been injured for a long while will tell you that good to be put on the pitch and even training with the lads.

“It was frustrating. You are helpless. You are desperate to help the boys but there is nothing you can do.

“You want to be back, at least working in the gym but with that particular injury I was limited to what I could do”

MacKenzie now wants his side to finish the job this season.

“The mood in the camp is high. We have picked up a few results,” he added.

“With the few games that are left, it is in our hands and we know what we need to do to stay in the division. think the boys are capable of doing that.”