Goncalves unsure of future

St Mirren striker Esmael Goncalves admits he still does not know if he will be waving goodbye to the club this summer.

Last Updated: 26/04/13 at 13:21 Post Comment

Esmael Goncalves: A crowd favourite in Paisley

Esmael Goncalves: A crowd favourite in Paisley

St Mirren striker Esmael Goncalves admits he still does not know if he will be waving goodbye to the Paisley club's adoring supporters this summer.

The on-loan Rio Ave frontman has enjoyed a sensational short-term stint in Scotland since arriving from Portugal in January.

The 21-year-old struck just seven minutes into his debut in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final victory over Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions Celtic.

Then he bagged another goal as the Buddies overcame Hearts 3-2 in the final to secure their first major trophy for 26 years.

All in all, Goncalves has struck six times in 11 outings for Danny Lennon's men but that form has convinced his paymasters in his homeland to recall him once his loan spell is up and try to cash in on his impressive figures.

Lennon admitted yesterday, however, that he has not given up hope of securing another loan spell and the former Nice attacker admits his future destination is uncertain.

Asked if he was preparing for his final four games in black and white, Goncalves told Press Association Sport: "It's the last four games of the season - after that, I don't know.

"If the opportunity was there to stay, I'd like that because I have really enjoyed my time in Scotland. But all I know is that Rio Ave want to sell me.

"You never know what could happen. I'm not sure about another loan deal but if they told me to come back here to St Mirren, I'd be happy. The fans really like me and I feel good here.

"If I go, though, I will miss Scotland, and especially the St Mirren fans. I really love the St Mirren fans."

Goncalves returns to the Saints line-up for tomorrow's SPL trip to Hibernian's Easter Road having sat out games against Kilmarnock and Dundee through suspension.

The Portuguese striker was banned retrospectively after the Scottish Football Association used television evidence to convict him of diving to win a penalty against Celtic in a 1-1 league draw last month.

But despite accepting the charge, the player today pleaded his innocence.

"It was difficult to sit in the stand last week against Dundee," said Goncalves after missing the 2-1 defeat at St Mirren Park. "I was dying to be out on the pitch with the boys. The team was losing and I could do nothing to help them.

"I was surprised when they suspended me because I have never seen that decision in any other country. I have played in France and Portugal and I've never seen that before.

"For me, the Celtic player touched me but the federation didn't think so. I accepted the decision, I didn't want to contest it because I didn't know how the system works and perhaps I would miss more than the two games I was banned for. Maybe they might have made it longer."

Dundee's win in Paisley closed the gap separating the bottom club and Saints to just 10 points with 12 still to play for.

But a win over William Hill Scottish Cup finalists Hibernian tomorrow will confirm safety for St Mirren and send the Dark Blues down.

"I'm not worried about being relegated," said Goncalves. "We will win one of our games. If it is not this week, we will win one of the others."

The first opportunity to kill off the spectre of demotion comes in Leith but Goncalves is wary of the home side despite a slide down the table that has seen them drop from first place in November to their current slot in ninth.

He said: "I just found out Hibs were top of the table earlier in the season but now they are in the bottom six. That can happen to any team.

"It's sad for Hibs but they are in the cup final now and that can save their season. They will be confident and we must be ready."


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