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Livingston boss David Martindale believes there are plenty more twists and turns to come in the battle for a place in the top six of the cinch Premiership.

The Lions suffered a blow last weekend when they lost 3-0 at St Mirren and were leapfrogged into sixth place by their opponents.

Livi, Saints and Hibernian are all now separated by just two points with three rounds of fixtures to play before the split and Martindale expects the top-six fight to go to the wire.

“I think it will be up and down,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be plain sailing for anyone and I think it will go to matchday 33. I think that’s a huge positive in terms of how competitive the league is.

“Outwith the top two, everybody else is fighting for third, fourth, fifth, sixth and then there’s a relegation battle going on at the bottom.

“This year I think will be similar to last year in terms of fighting to be in the top six on matchday 33.”

Martindale believes it is a sign of how well his team have done that they are once again in the mix for a top six place despite having one of the lowest budgets in the league.

“It’s testament to the players that I’m talking about that going into matchday 31 because that’s us been fighting for a top six place ever since the first year we were in the Premiership,” he said.

“Our primary objective is to stay in the Premiership and I’d probably say we’re safe now so we now need to kick on and try and get in the top six. We’ll give it every ounce of effort.

“We set three objectives this year. One, stay in the league. Two, try and get the top six. And number three, if you can get in the top six can you push for Europe.

“It would be agonising to miss out but there are three or four other teams all trying so we’ve got no divine right to finish in the top six.”

Livingston visit on-song Motherwell this weekend and Martindale admits his team will have to be wary of 20-goal Kevin van Veen.

“They’ve got a real potent goal threat in Van Veen,” said the Lions boss. “He’s one of the best strikers in the league.

“I’ve liked him since the moment he arrived at Motherwell and he seems to have hit a bit of form. A big part of the game is going to be stopping him.”