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RD5 | The Manager | St Johnstone Preview

September 14, 2018 1:05 pm Author: AFC Media Team


“Scott McKenna is available thankfully. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect to be honest with Mikey Devlin being suspended and with the injuries we’ve got with Tommie Hoban and Mark Reynolds out. It’s a welcomed return for Scott and for us. He’s worked extremely hard and it’s his first injury he’s had for a while. He’s just as you would expect. Applied himself brilliantly and is now in full training so it’s good timing.

“We welcome him back, but we’ve still got a lot of injuries at the minute which isn’t ideal and maybe have as many as seven or eight out. So unfortunately the squad isn’t as strong as it can be, but with Scott coming back into it, that gives us that real strength at the back. Before he went out the team with injury he was fantastic as he normally has been. Devlin is out suspended, and we’ve got long term injuries for Hoban, Reynolds and Tansey. Scott Wright is injured, Frank Ross has picked up an injury while away with Scotland U21’s and is out. James Wilson is not going to make tomorrow unfortunately, but the injury is progressing well for him and hopefully he will make the Motherwell game.

“McKenna coming back is the one good news from that, but it’s not ideal.”


“You get punished on the day and we felt we were harshly treated on the day. Referees are there to make decisions and they’re not going to get everything right and we can accept that as difficult as it is. I have nothing more to add to it really other than the fact when you see other clubs and the appeal process going through in recent weeks it’s been a bit strange some of the decisions that they come to.

“I think the appeal panel is there to assist the referee and come to the right conclusion, but when it’s your own team and your own player there is that frustration there when you feel the right outcome hasn’t materialised.

“It is what it is, and we deal with it. We’ve spoke about it and we’re without Mikey not only for 86 minutes last time out, but we’re without him again tomorrow and in light of the situation we’ve got with injuries it’s not ideal. It’s our turn at the minute with injuries. Every team will have their spells throughout the season and it’s not something we have had to contend with too much with, but we’re having to get through at the minute.

“Hopefully we can still produce performances and get the right result because last time out was the first defeat in the league for a while carrying on from the backend of last season. It’s been a solid enough start, but we want to try and get points on the board and get three points tomorrow. The team selected will still be capable of doing that. Although it will be a tough game we still want to get down there and put on a performance we’re capable of.

“I just wanted to comment on our own club’s situation because it affected us with Devlin and we were really frustrated and annoyed by how we felt common sense should prevail. I’ve said that before it’s there to assist and get to the right outcome. I don’t think it’s helping the referees recently and whatever way we come to the right conclusion we’ve got to try and get there and be as right as often as we can be. We can’t be always right on the pitch and we accept that. We saw that at the “World Cup how the VAR process aided the referee and gave him more confidence to make those right decisions. Unfortunately, we don’t have that here, but the appeal process just has to show more common sense. There’s rules to abide by and you can always find ways justifying a decision, but it’s the common sense that’s maybe frustrated everyone across the board from supporters, players, staff, journalists and people within the game. That’s the frustrating part of it, but hopefully we can start to get things more right than wrong. I don’t want to labour the point.”


“We’ve had some good results against St Johnstone last season, but over the period of my time here they have been a tough opponent for most teams and would normally be up with that top six, which suggests they get the right results. Last year was the first year in a while that they’d been outside that but this summer Tommy’s recruited well. They’ve brought some ball carriers in terms of Wright, Kenny and Danny Swanson is back. They’ve got Tony Watt to add to the goals and there’s still a familiarity about how they want to play so it’ll be a tough game. Likewise, we go down there motivated to get three points for our club and hopefully we can do exactly that.

“It’s still early on in the season to be really assessing clubs. I’ve managed to see St Johnstone in the flesh a couple of times this season and we watched their recent game on video. Having those ball carriers on the sides, they have maybe been a bit different because they may have more functional players. I know from speaking to Tommy he was keen to get those winger types into his club, so he’s now brought two or three in that can play these types of positions. I don’t know if it changes their style as it’s still early on to asses that, but there’s no doubting they’ve had a decent start and we’re well aware of that and well aware of their strengths. Hopefully we can try and limit their opportunities to cause us problems, but like every game it’s important to try and impose ourselves on the game and cause them problems at their end of the pitch.

“We were hoping to come out of the break with some of the injuries having cleared themselves, but that unfortunately been the case. Scott McKenna is the one exception to that and we were hoping Devlin was available. We’re trying to now get a consistency in our performance. It’s normally a strong period for us and hopefully we can go and get on with the job in hand. Normally when you come out the first quarter you have an idea of where you are. It’s still early on in the season, but we’d like to try and get some sort of consistency in performance and results. I feel in general it’s been there since the Burnley games, but we want to make sure we get all three points if we can.”


“He was disappointed not to get on the pitch in the second game, but it was a fantastic result having watched the game. I’m delighted for Alex and everyone involved to get off to a winning start, but it was great for Graeme to be involved in the Belgium game and be in and around the squad now. For me he’s taken a big step forward from the games in the close season when they went to South America and Mexico and what he’s done now is let the manager know his abilities. He can do that through training and I’ve said that to him. Chip away and let him know you’re there and hopefully his performances continue to be a high level for us and he continues to be in and around that squad and starts to get more game time as he goes along. Sometimes you have to wait for those starts, but I’ve no doubt he’s good enough to do exactly that.”


“I spoke to Bruce in pre-season in Ireland and we said we’d get around to an extension. He was one that was coming out of contract and Dean was different. He still had plenty on his contract, but we wanted to reassure him and reward him that we have every confidence in him. Both lads, although they play different positions, both have got a similar mindset that they back themselves to try and play for in our first team. They’ve got a lot to do and have to keep their level of performance up through the reserve team and training, but we feel both players have got a great future here and I’m delighted that both of them see exactly that as well.”


“I said when we signed James it was important that when someone who’s had a couple of injury problems and not had so successful loans it was important they got off to a good start. That’ll still be the case when he’s up and running, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt, and we just have to get on with it. He was one that we feel will make a big impact on us this season and getting that additional striker in was so important for us. It was probably the most important position that we had to try and recruit. We feel that James is capable of being that star player for us this season and I’m pretty sure he’ll go on and prove that. Unfortunately, he’s injured, it’s part of the game, but it’s not through the want of trying. He’s desperate to play his part.

“He’s probably done enough that if tomorrow was a cup final we could maybe throw him in and take a gamble, but in light of the games ahead and the importance of him to us, it’s important we give him every chance to be ready for next week and further games.”


“I was asked a few weeks ago about it and we all accept that Hampden isn’t perfect. We want to try and improve it and if they are going to try and improve the atmosphere and listen to supporters and those who operate there then great. I would take Hampden all day, but it’s important that we don’t get lazy with it and accept just as we are. We all accept that it needs improvement and we need to try and create a better atmosphere at the right times and make it as good a stadium as possible. We’re proud of the tradition of Hampden and I think it’s important that’s been maintained. I think we’re proud of the idea of Hampden and all that it encapsulates, but I feel for now we need to try and make it better for the players and the supporters when they go there.”

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