St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin thinks Buddies can finish second

St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin believes the Buddies are realistic candidates to finish runners-up in the Scottish Premier League this season.

With Rangers in Division Three, he says the race for second spot is wide open.

"Obviously Celtic are favourites and in my opinion will go on and win the league," said midfielder Goodwin.

"But I don't see why - and I hope I don't get shot down for saying it - we shouldn't be aspiring for second, third or fourth in the league."

Goodwin had to sit out the opening two league games through suspension

Goodwin had to sit out the opening two league games through suspension

The 30-year-old returns from suspension for the visit from Hibernian - with St Mirren sitting top of the table.

"Look at the teams who were up there last year - Motherwell, Dundee United and St Johnstone," said Goodwin, whose side finished eighth last season.

"I think Dundee United will be up there again this season, but I don't see why we can't look up that way.

"The likes of Hearts have lost a lot of influential players, Hibs are in a transitional period, Motherwell have lost one or two, they have all lost key figures, while I think we have strengthened.

"We lost one or two in the summer, but no disrespect to them, the boys who have replaced them are better.

"The players we have added in the summer, like Sam Parkin and Lewis Guy, means we have goals in the team.

"Last season, we were defensively strong, with 16 clean sheets.

"So, if we could add goals to our game, I have no doubt that we will be there or thereabouts.

"I think we are in a much healthier position now than we were at the end of last season."

Goodwin is "delighted to be back" after missing the first two games of the season and the former Hamilton Accies midfielder urged the Buddies fans to turn up get behind their side against Hibs.

"I just hope the ones that were here last year can maybe find a friend or relative and bring them along, because their support is huge for us," he added.

"They bought into what we tried to do, we made mistakes along the way, but they were very positive and encouraged us.

"We want to get up to that 5,000 mark regularly. The club needs that at this moment in time."

Meanwhile, 18-year-old central defender Sean Kelly has joined East Stirlingshire on a month-long loan and is poised to make his debut for the Third Division outfit at Ibrox against Rangers.