It’s been another great season if you’re a Saints fan! Once again, our local club has defied the odds and is on the verge of qualifying for Europe for the fifth time in six seasons – a fantastic achievement!
Tommy Wright’s boys are currently sitting in fourth place; six points clear of nearest rivals Hearts, with just three games left in the campaign. The visitors today are Partick Thistle – who themselves have had a successful season by all accounts – and Saints know that even a point against the Maryhill side may be enough to secure European football at McDiarmid Park next season.
The squad go into the match following a 4-1 defeat at Celtic Park last weekend, and will be hoping for a more positive result this time around. They will be boosted by the news that veteran midfielder Chris Millar is back in training and could play some part, while goalkeeper Allan Mannus is poised to sign a new contract to stay with the club next season.
One player who won’t take to the field is midfielder Murray Davidson – who underwent an operation on his ankle this week and will miss the remainder of the season. Murray knows all about playing continental football with Saints and he is eager to have another crack at the Europa League. He will be at McDiarmid to support his teammates in what is a crucial match for the Saints.
“Obviously I’m gutted that I won’t be playing and that I’m out for the final three games, but it made sense to get the operation now so I can be fully fit to start pre-season. I want to be fit and raring to go and hopefully we’ll be going on another European run!
I’ve already had European campaigns with the club and I’m really excited about the prospect of qualifying once again. It’s been a great season so far and we want to cap it off by getting that fourth spot secured.
You always want to be playing and testing yourself at the highest possible level and playing in Europe allows us the opportunity to do just that. We know that a positive result should be enough and the boys are just focusing on that – hopefully the supporters will turn out in force and we can send them all home happy.”
The fans certainly can start dreaming of another European adventure and will no doubt be reminiscing about their previous trips to Turkey, Norway, Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and Armenia.
A draw at home to Alan Archibald’s Partick Thistle side could be enough to secure qualification, depending on the outcome of Hearts’ fixture with Rangers which kicks off before the clash at McDiarmid Park. It means that the players will know before they step out onto the pitch exactly what they need to do to secure fourth spot and a place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.
Not everyone in the squad will be around to enjoy another crack at Europe next season though. Saints’ influential playmaker Danny Swanson has been in incredible form, and will hope to play a big part in getting the side over the line. However, he won’t be at the club next campaign to embark on any European adventures as he has already penned a pre-contract agreement with Hibs. Despite this, he remains fully committed to the club and his teammates until the end of the season.
“It’s great that we’re so close and we’ve had a really successful campaign. I don’t think many people would have predicted that we’d be where we are at this stage in the season.
Partick won’t be an easy fixture but by the time the game kicks off we’ll know what we need to do to confirm our qualification. All we can do is do our bit, give it our all and get a positive result. Hopefully that will be enough and we can celebrate being in the Europa League again with two games to spare.
Although I’m leaving at the end of the season, I’ve always been 100% committed to finishing the season strongly with St. Johnstone and I think it would be a great way to finish here by helping the team qualify for Europe. All of the boys want to give the fans some more European memories!”
So, by this evening Perth could be celebrating again if Saints confirm their place to represent our city on the European stage once again. We’ll be there to support the boys and a good crowd is expected to help get them over the line. With only three games to go before the end of the season, make sure you get to McDiarmid Park this weekend and make the most of the final moments of another superb season!