Darian MacKinnon has vowed not to let his frustrations sink Hamilton’s fight for survival.
The Accies club captain has not started a game for Brian Rice’s team since their Lanarkshire derby defeat in August.
Sitting on the sidelines has been a bitter experience for the 34-year-old, who has been a first pick for the club ever since he made the step up from the junior ranks back in 2012.
MacKinnon has seen before how a negative attitude can spread through a dressing room but is determined not to be the bad influence who rocks the boat and sends Accies – currently just a point above the relegation slots – down.
He said: “It’s been frustrating. I’m not used to it.
“However, there is no point being a bad influence. The worst thing I could do for this club is walk about with my face tripping me. I’ll support the boys because I don’t want this club to go down. I’m captain, so that’s the right thing to do.
“If I’m being negative the club could end up going down if I’m dragging all the young ones down with me. It’s easy to do that at a club.
“One thing I’ll never do is become a bad egg. How do I cope with the frustrations? I just go home and work on the punchbag. I just batter that for an hour.
“I’m coaching our under-16s too at the moment and, honestly, you have no idea how much of a stress relief that is.
“We train twice a week and have a game on a Sunday. It means I’m not sitting about the house the day after the first-team play stewing.”
MacKinnon does not entirely agree with Rice’s decision to axe him but that will not stop him supporting his team-mates – including the man who has taken his slot.
“After the Motherwell game, the manager pulled me in and said there will be some times when I play six weeks in a row but others where I’ll be out for six,” he explained. “That’s fine. At least he’s being honest with me.
“You’d rather he was doing that than walking past me in the corridor and saying ‘all right’.
“I’ve only missed one squad and that was against St Mirren. He pulled me in and explained. He’s paid to make the big decisions – it’s his neck on the line, not mine.
“He’s been playing with Alex Gogic sitting in front of the defence with two more forward-thinking midfielders.
“Gog is in the position I want to play in but he’s been fantastic. I’m not sitting here hoping he’s brutal so I can get back in.
“He’s been through a tough time with injuries so I’m not hoping he has a bad game. I would have when I was younger but now you realise if he’s doing well so will the team.”
An injury and suspension crisis could yet open the door for MacKinnon to make his return to Rice’s starting line-up on Sunday when Steven Gerrard’s in-form Rangers visit the Foys Stadium.
And MacKinnon is ready to take the fight to the Light Blues.
He said: “All you can do is be prepared. If the manager thinks I’m worth a start against Rangers on Sunday then I’ll be ready.
“Last month at Ibrox it was 5-0 but could have been anything Rangers wanted as they were on fire that day.
“However, no-one likes coming here with the astroturf and the two stands so we have to make it horrible for them. Be annoying, get stuck in and hopefully a wee bit of quality will win the game.”