MX23RW : Sunday, February 24 03:55:21

Oran Kearney happy to have Jimmy Nicholl on St Mirren coaching staff

Oran Kearney happy to have Jimmy Nicholl on St Mirren coaching staff
© Reuters
The former Raith Rovers boss has had a hip replacement.

St Mirren boss Oran Kearney insists Jimmy Nicholl was worth the wait after being forced to delay his move for the veteran coach because of a hip replacement.

The former Raith Rovers boss has joined his fellow Northern Irishman in Paisley after being appointed as the Buddies' new first-team coach.

The move was first muted last month but was put on hold while Nicholl – previously number two to Kearney's father-in-law Kenny Shiels at Kilmarnock – went under the surgeon's knife.

But now that the 61-year-old former Manchester United and Rangers star is back on his feet, the Saints boss believes Nicholl will be a major help as he continues to get a grip on Scottish football.

"It's dragged on for a while but in Jimmy's words, he's finally fit," said Kearney. "For years he's been putting off a hip replacement. He tells me they call him up every six months looking to get the surgery booked in.

"But he was always at a club or away helping on international duty with Northern Ireland, so he'd put it off for another six months.

"Because he hasn't been with a club for a wee while, he was finally able to get it done in between Northern Ireland games.

"It was about a week later that I called him to see if he'd be interested coming here.

"He could have come in at that stage but would've needed a walking stick and a lift in from somebody. However, he wanted to get himself up to a level of fitness where he's off the walking stick, can drive again and has some independence."

Nicholl finally got down to work on Thursday and Kearney believes the former Aberdeen, Hibernian and Rangers coach's knowledge will be a vital addition to his side's fight for Ladbrokes Premiership survival.

He added: "It's been great to get him in today.

"I haven't worked with him before but I was over quite a lot while he was working with Kenny at Kilmarnock so I've had plenty of interactions with him.

"I'm quite happy with what I bring to the table but I'm the first to admit I wasn't raised in Scotland so don't know the game here inside out – but Jimmy does having worked here for so long."

Having tied down Nicholl, Kearney is now set to turn his attention to securing Adam Hammill on a longer deal.

But the Saints boss confessed it will be down to the former Barnsley winger to decide whether he extends his current short-term contract, which is set to expire in the middle of January.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of Hamilton, he said: "Adam came to us a frustrated boy who was probably mistreated in the summer considering the chances he missed out on and all of a sudden found himself on the scrapheap.

"He's very grateful for the chance he got here.

"We haven't seen the best of him. I'd say he's only 75 per cent fit and we both want to see the best of Adam.

"In terms of contracts, we've been good for Adam and he's been good for us.

"Of course I want him to stay but he's got a young family down south in the Midlands so it's not just a footballing decision he has to make. It's right we give him time."


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