ST JOHNSTONE’S Steven MacLean hopes an extended run in the Europa League will persuade strike partner Stevie May to knock back a move to England.
Yorkshire sides Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday are tracking the Perth club’s 21-year-old hitman.
But MacLean is desperate to see a player who struck 27 goals last term stay where he is.
If May does move, Thursday night’s Europa League third-round qualifier with Slovakians Spartak Trnava will be his final appearance for his hometown club.
Saints will run out at the Anton Malatinsky Stadium 2-1 down from the first leg knowing they need two goals to have any hope of progressing.
But MacLean is keeping his fingers crossed that a place in the play-off round might make May think twice about heading south.
He told Press Association Sport: “I’m hoping Thursday won’t be Stevie’s last game and that he will stay.
“Maybe it could be a factor in our favour if we get through this one and get one step closer to the group stages.
“Perhaps the lure of those big nights might persuade him to stay for a bit longer.
“The Europa League would be a great stage for him. Everyone wants to play at the highest level they can. If we did get to next round and, if we were lucky, then the group stages it would definitely cross his mind.”
Saints confirmed last week that Rotherham had made their move for a player rated at £800,000 - but a deal has so far yet to be struck.
On Tuesday morning, boss Tommy Wright then admitted his surprise that no other clubs had tried to poach May away.
But just hours later Wednesday boss Stuart Gray contacted Saints to confirm the Hillsborough club’s interest.
MacLean added: “Stevie is a top player and there is always a lot of speculation about him.
“But if it is to be his last game, I’m sure he will put all that to one side and give us one last push. Hopefully he can get a goal before he leaves.”
Wright confirmed Wednesday had been in touch but insisted the transfer talks would not alter his plans for Thursday’s match.
The Northern Irishman told STV: “(The offer) came in yesterday afternoon but at the minute all we’re focusing on is the game.
“Stevie is focussing on the game. Whatever happens between any club and ourselves regarding Stevie will go on in the background.
“But at the moment Stevie’s on the plane and he will play, and when he gets back something may or may not have happened.”
Saints have recorded some memorable away performances in Europe over the last 12 months but this time they must battle back from a deficit to progress.
MacLean, however, is backing his side to complete the job.
“We’ve been to Rosenborg, we’ve been to Minsk and we’ve been to Luzern and got good results,” he stressed.
“The difference was in those game we were away from home first and never really pushed for a second.
“But we know we’ve got the team to score goals, so there is no reason why we can’t get the two we need over there.”