St Mirren: Next three games pivotal - Steven Thompson

St Mirren captain Steven Thompson
Thompson has scored just once in an injury-hit season

Captain Steven Thompson says St Mirren cannot afford to lose any more ground on Premiership relegation rivals Motherwell and Ross County.

The Paisley side are four points adrift at the bottom and meet the teams closest to them following Friday's game with leaders Celtic.

"The next three games are pivotal," Thompson told BBC Scotland.

"I think we need six points from the nine available, bare minimum four. These are huge games for the club."

With just one home win all season, Thompson acknowledges his side will be underdogs when Celtic visit St Mirren Park.

"You always go into a Celtic game with hope rather than expectation," said the 36-year-old striker.

"But I don't think we can lose against Motherwell or Ross County."

Thompson described the recent 2-0 loss at St Johnstone as "unacceptable" but insists the team are in the mood to battle their way out of trouble.

"We need to show a big reaction," he added.

"There is pressure, there's always pressure. For the last three years I've been at the cub, we have flirted with relegation.

"This season, we got off to a poor start and we've taken punch after punch, got up a few times, and been hit again.

"So many defeats, with so little to cheer can bring you down, especially with our extremely young squad

"But the message now is that there is no time to reflect, only to react, roll up our sleeves and fight for our survival."

Kenny McLean was sold to Aberdeen in January
Kenny McLean was sold on to Aberdeen in the winter transfer window

Supporters were critical when Kenny McLean was sold to Aberdeen in January and Thompson admits the attacking midfielder's loss has been felt.

"Kenny had been our best player this season, without doubt, and his form leading up to his departure had reached an exceptional level," he explained.

"But what I will say is that when he was at the club we were still in the bottom two or three.

"He was an important player - and losing an important player will have an impact.

"But it's disrespectful on the rest of us to suggest that he was the only player in the team."

St Mirren returned to the top flight in 2006 and Thompson is reluctant to consider dropping down a division three games before the Premiership split.

However, he did say the club would face "humongous cutbacks, with people losing their jobs" in the event of relegation.

"People with contracts, I think their money halves in most cases.

"My contract is up in the summer. It's not my decision whether I'm at at the club next year and there's another 10 or 12 in the same boat."

And would Thompson consider hanging up his boots at the end of an injury-hit campaign?

"I certainly hope it's not my last season playing," he said. "It's probably been the most disappointing season of my career, so not one I'd like to bow out on."