ST MIRREN captain Stephen McGinn admits the club’s return to the top division couldn’t have gone any worse.

The Paisley side are propping up the Premiership table having taken just nine points from their opening 18 matches, and have won just once since Oran Kearney’s arrival as manager in September.

McGinn returned for his second spell at Saints in January 2017 and helped the club avoid relegation to League One on the final day of that season, before leading them to the Championship title last year.

In contrast, the midfielder admits the return to the top flight has been a “steep learning curve” and felt the only positive is that Saints have not been cut adrift at the bottom.

He said: “The last five months couldn’t have gone any worse, in my opinion. It’s been a steep learning curve. Even for myself, from the highs of the last 18 months, it’s been a really tough six months to be a part of.

“We’re not good enough to have off-days. You can’t switch off in this league or you get punished.

"It’s tough for some of the players. Some are having the first six months of their professional careers of men’s football.

“Any lack of quality at times in terms of making the wrong decision and players at this level will punish you for it.”

St Mirren battled valiantly against Aberdeen on Saturday before going down 2-1 and McGinn felt a lack of quality had cost them dearly.

He added: “The most frustrating bit is we played so well but we let ourselves down with our quality in the final third. We got caught offside far too many times.

"We got into good situations but then made the wrong pass or got caught with the ball and let Aberdeen off the hook.

“At this level you’ve got to better than that. But I think the fans will have gone home on Saturday appreciating we gave everything trying to get a result for the club.

“As a club we’ve let ourselves down in different departments this season. But the fans have been brilliant. I can’t say enough but how good they’ve been given how tough it’s been.”

Despite the poor start, Saints find themselves behind 11th-placed Dundee only on goal difference and trail Hamilton by four points. McGinn hoped they could take points from their final three games before the winter break to move up the table.

He added: “We just have to keep battling on, digging in and looking forward. We’re still in the mix.

"We have three winnable games left so we have to target as many points as we can going into January. And then we’ll get a break, reassess, and go again.”