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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 15:02 UK

Martin Canning tips Hamilton to retain SPL status


Relegation tag frustrates Canning

By John Barnes

Martin Canning believes Hamilton will defy the bookmakers' odds and prolong their stay in the Premier League.

Some bookies are quoting Accies as joint-favourites along with St Mirren to be relegated next season.

"It's frustrating for the boys and the backroom team when you hear that," admitted the 28-year-old defender, who has signed a new two-year deal.

"When you look at the size of the club, it's always going to be an assumption that we're going to struggle."

The Accies finished seventh last term, improving two places on their previous campaign, which was their first back in the top flight since they were relegated in 1989.

"I think we've proved over the last couple of seasons, with the manager, the chairman and with the right bunch of boys, what we can achieve," added Canning.

"Last season was successful for me on both counts. I missed the first game through suspension and didn't pick up any serious injuries, so I managed to play every other game.

"As far as the club is concerned we progressed from the season before which is always what you're looking to do."

Accies ended last season with an impressive run of form, which saw them lose only one of their last 13 games.

We've shown once we've got all our players fit and our strongest team on the park we are a match for most teams

Martin Canning

"That's a great run to be on, " said former Hibs and Gretna centre-half Canning.

"Ideally, if we can go on that run again it would be unbelievable for us.

"But I think it's just important we get off to a good start because last season we didn't.

"We've shown once we've got all our players fit and our strongest team on the park we are a match for most teams."

Canning would like to see star midfielder James McArthur stay at the club. However, he realises it is now time for his team-mate to move on.

"From a selfish point of view I'd rather he stayed because he's a good player and you want him in your team," he said.

"But from a personal point of view for James I think it's time that he got the opportunity to move on and go and play at a higher level because he's more than capable of doing that.

"He's a great player and since I came to the club he's been consistently very good. So I think the timing's right for him."

Canning has just returned from a holiday in the Maldives where the weather was more like a Scottish winter.

Now, along with a number of his team-mates, he is already preparing for the season ahead in the Scottish sunshine.

Although they are not due to start pre-season training until 5 July, Accies players are maintaining their fitness voluntarily on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the close season.

"It started on 1 June, while I was away on holiday. It keeps you ticking over and means you don't need to do so much by yourself," he explained.

"We took a chance going to the Maldives having never been before. But we went in the rainy season and got unlucky. When you see the weather here in Scotland my fiancee says she wishes we had never left."

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