THERE is a quote attributed to Bill Shankly where he compared a football team to a piano. “You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.” On Saturday, James Keatings showed why Hamilton Academical need him sitting on the stool.

Keatings, when fit and in form, brings the guile and creativity required in a side that boasts plenty of fight but little finesse.

Against St Mirren on Saturday he scored his first-ever top-flight goal at the age of 26 and delivered two perfectly-weighted assists for Dougie Imrie and Ziggy Gordon to enable Martin Canning’s side rack up a precious victory to ease their relegation predicament.

Keatings’ issue is that he seems to be forever undone by his physical frailty as was the case in Paisley when he hobbled off with a foot injury 10 minutes after his spectacular strike.

The Hamilton manager Martin Canning hopes to have him fit for Wednesday’s game against Dundee and on this evidence it is not difficult to see why.

“Keats is a fantastic player,” said Imrie. “He’s got all the ability in the world and if he can keep himself fit he will be a big player for us until the end of the season.

“It’s great to see him score his first goal in the Premiership and hopefully that will give him confidence and kick him on too.

“For me I just think he’s been unlucky. He’s had injuries at the wrong time and I don’t think he’s really played many games in the Premiership. He’s got everything – he’s just got to stay fit. But for me if he can keep going the way he is going and grow in confidence he will be a massive player for us.”

St Mirren had high hopes going into this game but, barring Stephen McGinn’s goal late in the first half, rarely got going and had Simeon Jackson sent off for two bookings in the second half.

“I felt the performance was there for us but we couldn’t score and conceded two goals from sloppy set-pieces and then came the third goal that killed us,” said defender Lee Hodson.

“But I felt the lads showed great character, even after going down to 10 men as we kept pushing and creating chances. We’re disappointed but we can’t let our heads go down as we’ve got a game on Wednesday.”