Brian Rice hoping Hamilton see return of casualties next month

Brian Rice will not be going shopping in the January sales but hopes the return of his casualties can provide Hamilton a New Year boost.

The Accies boss operates on a strict budget and knows he is unlikely to be given extra funds to strengthen during the winter break.

But with the likes of influential midfielder Blair Alston and ex-Falkirk defender Ciaran McKenna due back from knee injuries following the Hogmanay celebrations, Rice is hoping to see a fresh injection of quality following the festive rush.

Asked if he had plans to splash out next month, the Hamilton boss said: “No but what I’m hoping for is to get one or two key players back from injury.

“Blair Alston for example. He’s a big, big player for us but hasn’t played for the last two months.

“Getting boys like Will Collar back recently was just like a new signing. Ciaran McKenna will be too once he’s fit again.

“I brought 13 or 14 players in during the summer and quite a few have taken knocks and injuries.

“We have to run with a small squad here. To get a Blair Alston in or certain lads from England, it means we need to carry a smaller squad with the good young players we have here giving us back up.”

Accies travel to Aberdeen on Saturday to face a Dons side reeling from last week’s 3-0 defeat at Hibernian.

That result sparked another round of grumbles from the Pittodrie faithful but Rice knows Derek McInnes will not be able to please all of the Red Army all of the time.

“The expectation levels from the Aberdeen public is high because Derek has done such a great job there,” said Rice, whose side face two massive battles with relegation rivals Hearts and St Johnstone this month.

“He’s taken them to finals and semi-finals and been runners-up in the league.

“He’s set the bar very high up there but fans have got expectations now. The bigger club you’re at, the higher the expectation levels.

“Derek will be frustrated with what happened last weekend at Easter Road because I don’t think anybody saw it coming, especially after the result against Rangers.

“I don’t think the stick he gets at times is fair because he’s done a fantastic job. But that goes back to the fans’ expectations again.

“We have two big games coming up but we can’t look past the Aberdeen game. I heard Jurgen Klopp saying before their (Liverpool’s) game against Salzburg it was the biggest game of their season…until the next game.

“That’s a top manager saying that so if he can say that then it’s good enough for us.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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