CONOR McCARTHY is determined to arrest St Mirren’s run of four straight defeats when Kilmarnock come to Paisley this afternoon.

The Buddies have looked vulnerable from crosses at times this season, with the majority of the goals they’ve shipped coming from deliveries into the area from wide positions.

As a centre-half, the 22-year-old Irishman admits that conceding from balls into the box – typically, a defender’s bread and butter – has been painful, but McCarthy is convinced he and his team-mates will soon turn a corner, thanks to analysis sessions with manager Jim Goodwin.

 "It definitely does sting as a defender to be conceding from crosses,” he admitted. "We've been working on patterns of play to try and prevent that, to try and stop it at the source from coming into the box and stopping second balls.

"But being a central defender and conceding the amount we have definitely hurts.

"The manager has brought us in individually to show us clips. Every game we play is clipped and we get our individual clips to look back at.

"He brings us in individually and as a unit to show us things we could have done better or decisions we could have made better at the time.

"That's brilliant from the gaffer because as a young player myself, that's the only way you're going to improve.”

St Mirren may have lost four games on the bounce but they have had to deal with a number of setbacks in recent weeks, particularly in defence.

Hearts goalkeeper Bobby Zlamal was brought in on an emergency loan after all three first-team goalkeepers at St Mirren Park had to self-isolate, Joe Shaughnessy and Richard Tait have missed the odd game through suspension and further up the park, players like Kyle Magennis and Kristian Dennis have been ruled out through injury.

It means that Goodwin has rarely been able to field his strongest XI this season and McCarthy believes that while the results haven’t been good enough lately, the Saints have shown they have what it takes to bounce back.

He said: “It’s been a difficult run and the last four games have definitely tested us mentally but we’ve got such a strong group and I’ve no doubt we’re ready to bounce back at the weekend.

“One of the gaffer’s main strengths is that he’s positive win, lose or draw. He’s driven home what we’re really good at as a team and hopefully we can produce that in the next game.

“Performances have been there and they haven’t. It’s always easy to say you’re not performing well when the chips are down but there’s been some good aspects of the game and the gaffer has been showing us that in analysis.

“We had a settled unit at the start of the season and then had a few sending offs and the goalkeeper situation but the players who have stepped in are more than capable.

“But it would be nice to get back to that unit we built up. We want to get back to basics and while we’ve had a dip in form, we have enough experienced players in the group to pull each other together.”

That turnaround, McCarthy hopes, will start today against Alex Dyer’s men. The Irish defender will be lining up against a few of his compatriots this afternoon in Paisley and while facing the Ayrshire club will be something of a novelty for him, having never played them before, he is expecting a physically demanding contest.

"I've never played against Kilmarnock but from speaking to the boys we're expecting a physical challenge,” he said. "They're going to get in and about us and we're going to have to earn the three points.

"Thursday was the first day I found out they had Irish in their squad. I know they've got two central midfielders [Alan Power and Gary Dicker] so they'll bring experience to the table.

"I know the Irish are fighters speaking from experience so it'll be good to come up against even more Irish players.

“Every game in this league is really tough. We’re under no illusions of the strengths of Kilmarnock  but we’re really looking forward to it.”

One player that McCarthy will need to keep a close eye on is Killie striker Nicke Kabamba. Energetic, strong and with a dangerous turn of pace, the St Mirren defender knows the 27-year-old will be a fearsome opponent – but McCarthy can’t wait to go toe-to-toe with the former Hartlepool forward.

"I relish any challenge to be honest,” he said. “I suppose it's good to come up against that quality of striker to really test yourself.

"It's the only way I'm going to improve, to come up against these players that want a physical battle or want to run in behind.”