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Aug 1, 2014

McGovern relishing challenge

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Hamilton summer signing Michael McGovern will not entertain the notion that the Scottish Premiership will be devalued next season due to the absence of Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers.

The goalkeeper has just turned 30 but has yet to feature in a top-flight league game, that ambition is set to be realised this season following his move to New Douglas Park after three seasons at Championship side Falkirk.

The top division will have an odd look about it, however, after the two big Edinburgh clubs were relegated last season - Accies beating Hibs in the play-off to gain promotion - while Rangers moved up to the second tier as they climb their way back up the leagues following administration and liquidation.

However, Northern Ireland international McGovern, looking forward to the League Cup first-round clash with Arbroath at New Douglas Park on Saturday, believes the top league is always the best place to perform.

He told Press Association Sport: "You would obviously have liked to have played against them but it is more about playing in the top league, it is what everyone wants to do.

"You see from the Championship, the aim is to get up to the Premiership and I am sure those teams will not be there (in Championship) for very long.

"The Championship will be an exciting league this year, no doubt about that but you want to play at the highest level.

"It is the most prestigious league in the country, it is the top league and it is where the top players play."

McGovern started his career at Celtic in 2001 but never made the first team at Parkhead, latterly loaned out to Stranraer and St Johnstone.

He signed for Premiership club Dundee United in 2008 but never played before establishing himself at Ross County, subsequently becoming a Bairn in 2011.

Now, the Northern Irishman is looking forward to the challenge of his new club.

"I was at Falkirk for three years and I had a great time," he said. "This is new, it is a fresh challenge, a different league and I am looking forward to it.

"I was impressed with Hamilton when playing against them last season and after getting to know the manager and working with the players day to day, I am confident that we will do well this season.

"I am glad to get pre-season out of the way. It has been good but everyone wants to get going in the competitive stuff and I can't wait to get going against Arbroath."

Hamilton go into the game missing injured midfielders Jon Routledge and Tony Andreu, but manager Alex Neil has no other concerns.

Arbroath have completed the signings of former Queen's Park defender Ross Fisher and ex-St Johnstone midfielder Kieran Stewart and they will both be involved on Saturday.

However, another summer recruit, Craig Johnstone, will miss out due to suspension.

Aassistant manager Todd Lumsden has told his team that they have to stay in the game for as long as possible.

"We are a decent side going forward but we need to improve defensively,`` said Lumsden. ``That is not just an issue for our defence but for everybody in the team.

"We have to keep the scoreline blank for as long as possible to give ourselves a chance."

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