Saints boss Jim Goodwin has warned his players to expect a fast start when Hearts travel to Paisley tomorrow.

The Gorgie side wasted no time in taking the lead in their impressive 2-1 win over Celtic on the opening day of the season, with Gary Mackay-Steven putting them in front just eight minutes in.

Despite this being the Jambos’ return to the top flight, Goodwin knows that they are one of the teams which will be fighting it out with the Buddies for a top-half finish.

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But the Saints manager also wants the squad to build on the point which they took away from Dens Park after starting their league campaign with a 2-2 draw against Dundee, after being ahead twice.

Goodwin told Express Sport: “I think the top two is nailed on but I wouldn’t say the top four. The likes of Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts are probably ahead of the rest in terms of budgets, fan base, and history. But teams like St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Livingston, and Motherwell have shown other sides can force their way in there.

“There’s no reason to believe we can’t do likewise and there’s always surprises. If we didn’t’ think that there would be no point in trying. We are one of the so-called smaller teams but we believe we have a squad that can make an impact this season.”

He was delighted with the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions which will see many more supporters return to grounds to watch their games in person.

But the restrictions are not removed in time for this weekend’s round of fixtures, with the changes not coming into effect until Monday, August 9.

But with Rangers and Celtic both being given full capacity for their games forward, with Rangers due to have 51,000 fans inside Ibrox for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Malmö on Tuesday night, Goodwin believes league bosses have missed a trick by not having pushed the fixtures back to allow for more supporters.

And he doesn’t think there would have been any club, who would have opposed that way of thinking.

The Irishman added: “I’m delighted – it’s the news we’ve all been waiting for. We’re now going to get stadiums back to normal and it’s great. A friend of mine got married a few weeks ago and he was only allowed 50 guests, but if he’d waited two days he could have had 200. It was mentioned he saved a few quid! We’ve had to just follow the government's advice.

“It’s probably too late in the day for us to move it but it’s something the SPFL and everyone could have looked at. Let’s have a big night of Monday night football.

"Get the cameras involved and show the communities a big occasion where everyone is back in. We’re only allowed a little over 1000 on Saturday but that would have been a sensible option if it had been made available. I doubt there would have been any issue to move it.”