St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin knows he was right to leave lucky charm Jake Doyle-Hayes out against Hibernian – even though it played a part in ending his team’s 11-game unbeaten run.
The 21-year-old former Aston Villa prospect has made a big impression in Paisley since signing at the beginning of last month.
His arrival coincided with a major upturn in fortunes for the Buddies and he has yet to taste defeat in his nine appearances so far.
But Doyle-Hayes was absent on Wednesday night as St Mirren finally stumbled to a 1-0 Easter Road defeat having sustained a concussion against St Johnstone last weekend.
Goodwin, though, has no regrets about leaving out his star midfielder after insisting his fellow Irishman’s health came first.
He told StMirrenTV: “Jake is a big player for us and I thought we did miss him (on Wednesday) night.
“But he got a slight concussion against St Johnstone at the weekend and there’s obviously been a lot said about head knocks recently.
“We weren’t willing to take a risk on Jake – and the advice from the medical team was that it would be a risk.
“As manager I’ve got to make those difficult decisions and as much as Jake is a key player, I’ve got to listen to the advice of the doctor and the physio so we came to the decision that it was best he missed the Hibs game.
“He will be available to face Ross County on Boxing Day.
“Jake has shown everybody what a key player he is.
“His team-mates think the world of him, they know what a great addition he has been to the squad.
“The supporters watching the games he’s been involved in have seen the quality he’s brought to the team and it’s no coincidence that he’s not lost a game yet.
“Hopefully when he comes back into the team on Saturday that will remain the case.”
St Mirren remain a point above the relegation zone but can move eight clear of rock-bottom Ross County with victory in Dingwall on Boxing Day.
John Hughes will be in charge of the Staggies for just the second time and Goodwin is hoping the former Inverness boss has not changed his methods much during his three-year spell in the managerial wilderness.
“It’s hard to predict how they are going to go,” confessed the Saints boss. “I don’t think watching back their game with Celtic is going to give much away as I would expect them to line up differently against us.
“John Hughes is a good appointment, an experienced manager who has had huge success at Hibs, Falkirk and Inverness.
“So he will be relishing the opportunity to go back in at Ross County. He’s a football man who likes to get the ball down and play, building from the back.
“I don’t suppose he’s lost that way of thinking over the last three years out the game. County have some very good players who I’m sure John will enjoy working with.”