Livingston star Stevie Lawless admits he is cherishing clean sheets now – because wing-back role is going to wreck his goal tally



LIVINGSTON star Stevie Lawless insists he is cherishing clean sheets for the first time in his career after reinventing himself as part of the Lions’ iron curtain.

The 27-year-old, who came through the ranks at Motherwell, built his reputation as a flying winger at Partick Thistle as he notched 35 goals during six years at Fir Park.

However, Lawless has slotted seamlessly into the hugely successful 3-5-2 formation, shining in the right wing-back position.

Any fears over his defensive capabilities have been dismissed during a seven-match unbeaten run in the Premiership, during which they have racked up five shut-outs.

And, acutely aware that his new responsibilities at the back will wreck his strike-rate, Lawless is lapping up that record.

“I’ve said to the boys that I’ve invented a wee role for myself as a ‘winger-back’,” he smiled.

“It is something a bit different. I’ve never really considered clean sheets too much as part of my own performance. Of course you do a bit of defending when you are playing as a winger, but you are really thinking more about creating chances and scoring goals.

“However, I’ll need to start appreciating the shut-outs now, because I’m not going to get as many goals as I would like. For the first time, a clean sheet is what I want for a good weekend!

“I filled in in that position a couple of times for Thistle, but now I’ve properly settled into it.

The biggest difference is being on the wing on your own, but it gives us scope to have another striker and the system has worked pretty well so far.”

Livingston’s marvellous start to the season was recognised this week as Gary Holt landed manager of the month for September, having guided the Lions to wins over Hamilton, Rangers and Hibs and a draw against league leaders Hearts.

The Lions are riding high in fifth spot, just four points off the summit, and Holt was quick to lavish praise on the hunger and humility of his players as he picked up the award. Those sentiments are echoed by Lawless.

“We go into every game knowing we can win,” he added. “Everybody knows that a lot of our success is built on hard work and we’ll never go into a game giving anything other than our best.

“If we keep putting the graft in, then we know we have players in the attacking areas that can get us the points.”