Hamilton: Martin Canning says this will be club's toughest survival fight

Hamilton manager Martin Canning
Hamilton manager Martin Canning is entering his third full season in charge of the club

Hamilton manager Martin Canning admits the challenge of keeping Accies in the Premiership is tougher than ever.

Last season the club, which has the league's smallest budget, needed to survive a relegation play-off after finishing second bottom.

Canning anticipates another frantic fight for survival this term.

"The league is stronger again this year," he said. "If you look at the quality of the signings, the standard of player has shot up."

As well as most of the teams in the Premiership strengthening their squads during the summer, Hibernian also return to the top flight after winning the Championship.

Hamilton have managed to survive three consecutive seasons, but they are widely expected to be in the relegation mix again during this campaign.

'We need to prove everybody wrong again'

Canning accepts that his team will always be battling against the odds, but the challenge does not faze him.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good challenge," he said.

"You've got guys like Graham Dorrans, Steven Whittaker and Kyle Lafferty coming back up from down south to join Scottish clubs, which is great.

"That's the result of having Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs all back in the one league. These are the games the media wants to see and it's bringing in a bit more income.

"It's an exciting league to be involved in this year - but it just makes it all the tougher for us.

Hamilton's Greg Docherty, left, and manager Martin Canning
Greg Docherty's goal against Dundee United in relegation play-off kept Hamilton in the top flight

"It's going to be the same again. We're going to be the team that everybody tips to go down.

"Those predictions don't annoy me because, if you were to look logically at what we spend in comparison to others, how many fans we get turning up in comparison to others and the size of our club in comparison to others then pretty much everybody would say we should be finishing bottom.

"We just need to make sure we go prove everybody wrong again.

Hamilton, who kick-off their Premiership campaign against Aberdeen on Sunday, have added goalkeeper Ryan Fulton and centre-back Xavier Tomas to their squad so far.

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