Brian Easton admits St Johnstone’s players have been winding-up Michael O’Halloran after learning the club had rejected two approaches from Rangers for their striker.
The Perth defender shares a car to training with the former Scotland under-21 striker, who has been targeted by Ibrox manager Mark Warburton as a transfer window signing.
Saints manager Tommy Wright is adamant that O’Halloran will face Hamilton Accies on Saturday after rebuffing approaches from the Glasgow club.
Easton recalled being at the centre of speculation himself before leaving Hamilton for Burnley earlier in his career.
He said: “Sometimes the speculation can be a distraction but I don’t think the transfer talk will cause problems for Mikey, especially in this changing room where there are players who have been about and experienced it for themselves. We know how to handle it.
“There has been a bit of stick flying around, especially in the car up to training. We have been asking him if he wants a lift to Murray Park.
“Having a laugh about it probably relaxes Mikey. It’s good for any player in that situation. But really it is all flattering and should be great for his confidence.”
While Accies are looking to get back on track after an embarrassing 4-1 William Hill Scottish Cup defeat to Annan Athletic, Easton admitted Saints have their own reasons to chase three Ladbrokes Premiership points after being knocked out by Kilmarnock.
“People will look at their result in the cup as being more of a shock than us losing to Kilmarnock,” he said. “But a few months down the line they will probably have forgotten their defeat at Annan.
“Going out of the cup was a killer for us. It was a game we felt was there for the taking, one we definitely could have won.
“After getting a taste of winning the cup a couple of years ago, we always feel we have a chance of going on and doing it again. That made it even more disappointing at such an early stage of the competition. Now it is back to league business. We always knew it was going to be tight with real competition for the top six places.
“In the last four games we are disappointed not to have scored but at least we have been making chances.
“We are still in a good position but we want a win to take us into big games against Celtic and Hibs.”
Hamilton’s Ziggy Gordon, meanwhile, is confident Hamilton can recover from a collective low point when they face St Johnstone on Saturday.
The Accies’ 4-1 defeat at League Two side Annan Athletic last Saturday not only dumped them out of Scottish Cup but extended their poor run to one win in 13 games.
Hamilton are in 10th place in the Ladbrokes Premiership, two points ahead of Kilmarnock who are in the relegation play-off spot.
However, ahead of the trip to Perth, the 22-year-old Hamilton defender was upbeat.
“For the majority of boys here it is the lowest point of our careers, without doubt,” he said. “It was a shock for us, like everyone else and we are really disappointed in everything about our performance.
“This week has been total determination. There is only one way to get out of this and that is to bounce back the next week. That is the good thing about being a footballer. You always have next week to make everything right and prove everyone wrong.
“We have a great chance against St Johnstone. It is not the easiest game but it is one we are going to relish and put in a performance which everyone is going to be proud of.
“We have shown this season that we can beat anybody and on our day we are one of the best teams in the league but it is all about consistency and that is what is lacking.”
Gordon, indeed, refused to consider the prospect of relegation, saying: “Every team goes through this kind of a run.
“Partick Thistle have gone through it, Dundee United, Kilmarnock, even Aberdeen and Ross County and even St Johnstone at the moment are not scoring many goals.
“Every team goes through it. It is all about how you get out of it and how quickly.”