Wright happy with early return

Date published: Wednesday 17th June 2015 1:48

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That match, a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie, put Saints in pole position for a European place which was secured when Inverness CT beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup final.

St Johnstone will now play the first leg of their Europa League qualifier on July 2, with the opposition still to be decided.

This will be the fourth year in succession the club has been involved in European action, in which time they have beaten Swiss club Lucerne and Norwegian giants Rosenborg.

But manager Tommy Wright believes the early return is reward for the effort his players have produced in recent seasons, saying: “Overall we’re delighted to have come back early as it means European football.

“We’ve managed it quite well. The only thing is you have to maybe look at it during the season, but we give players a bit more rest and recovery time, and it hasn’t been a problem for us.

“This year is slightly different in that it is only 24 days, we’ve normally got about 35/36 days, so there’s a bit of a shorter break this time, but we’ll manage it and we’ll be ready to go in the second of July.

“The close season in Scotland, it isn’t like the Championship in England where it’s six or seven weeks, it’s always been pretty short.


“Players nowadays don’t come back unfit, they look after themselves really in the close season, when they’re given programmes to do, so we’ve done a bit of testing today and the lads have done really well and as I say that’s something we’ll look at over the season.“

As well as finishing in the top half of the league four years running, and winning the Scottish Cup for the first time in 2014, Saints are undefeated away from home in their four European ties.

Wright said: “We’ve done really well. We’ve been unbeaten away from home in the ties that we played. The last two seasons we’ve drawn teams that maybe on paper we shouldn’t beat, Rosenborg and Lucerne, but we did.

“They lost to teams that maybe on paper that we should win, Eskisehirspor, Minsk, no disrespect to them, so we’ll be looking to get past that second qualifying round that seems to be a bit of a hurdle for us.”

Saints have been busy adding to their squad in the past three weeks with striker John Sutton, forward Graham Cummings, central defender Brad McKay and full-back Joe Shaughnessy all arriving at McDiarmid Park.

Wright is hopeful the new arrivals will help cement the team’s place in Scotland’s top division.

“The target will be trying to get into the top six again. I think we’ve made some good signings. Like any manager we hope to improve the squad, and I think with bringing in John Sutton, Graham Cummings, Joe Shaughnessy and Brad Mackay in we’ve that. And that will be our target again.

“But we don’t underestimate then task. The other teams will be trying to strengthen and we’ve got to make sure that we produce a consistent performance, which we tend to do over a season, and hopefully that will get us top six again.”

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