David Martindale is happy for Livingston to be avoiding the Scottish Premiership bottom-six battle.
The West Lothian side clinched a top-half finish with a 2-1 home win over Hamilton last Saturday.
While Martindale wants the fifth-placed Lions to push on against Hibernian at home on Saturday – the last fixture before the split – he is pleased he does not have to worry about what happens below him.
He said: “I think that the team that finishes seventh this year (going into the split), with how tight it is, could be 11th by the end of the season.
“There is a lot of real interest around the bottom of the league this year and I am absolutely delighted I have nothing to do with it.
“I think it will be really interesting for the neutral and a really good way to end the season.
“Teams in the bottom half of the table are all capable of taking points off each other so I think it is going to be really interesting.
“You have to strip it back. We have been in the Premiership three years. We finished ninth the first year and we weren’t a million miles away from top six.
“Last year we finished fifth and the season got ended early by Covid obviously.
“That’s two top-six finishes for Livingston and the players, the staff and the club have to take massive credit for that because I think that’s a fantastic achievement for everyone associated with the club.”
Martindale remained coy if somewhat pessimistic about the Livingston future of attacker Scott Robinson who has been absent for the last two games after being substituted against Rangers.
Robinson is out of contract this summer and the Livi manager said: “Nothing has changed. Still unavailable for selection.
“To be honest, I hope so (play for Livingston again) but I can’t see it. I would like him to but I can’t see it. I don’t know. It is out my hands.
“Until he becomes available for selection I can’t really do anything more. I don’t want to go into more detail.”
Martindale revealed defender Alan Lithgow has returned to training after 15 months out of action.
The 33-year-old defender last featured for Livingston in a 4-0 victory over Ross County in December 2019 before undergoing a hip operation.
Martindale said: “I need to be really careful with Alan, he has had a full week’s training this week and has trained really well.
“Potentially he is one I could get involved (against Hibs) but I need to be really careful I don’t throw him in too early.
“Max Stryjek has had a back complaint for six weeks but trained today (Thursday) and will be available for selection.
“I think Keaghan Jacobs (out with foot injury) isn’t a million miles away, although he isn’t available at this point.”