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Wright looking for ‘real’ Saints in Scottish Cup

St Johnstone have struggled in previous games against Aberdeen this season. Picture: Ian Rutherford

St Johnstone have struggled in previous games against Aberdeen this season. Picture: Ian Rutherford

St Johnstone have lost three times to Aberdeen this season but Perth boss Tommy Wright claims his “real” side have not turned up to any of their clashes with the Dons.

The best the McDiarmid men have managed against Derek McInnes’ side was a goalless draw at Pittodrie back in August.

But since then, they have shipped seven goals in three matches without netting any in return.

The most painful of those defeats was the 4-0 hammering in the League Cup semi-final at Tynecastle at the end of January.

Wright’s men, however, have the chance to gain revenge when they meet in the William Hill Scottish Cup last-four showdown at Ibrox on Sunday and the Saints boss insists they are ready to silence those who doubt them.

He said: “We can do better than we have done against Aberdeen this season.

“You need to give them credit because they are a good side but we can do better and we know we can do better. It hasn’t been the ‘real’ St Johnstone.

“Everybody else seems to think that the winner of the two semis will come from Aberdeen and Dundee United, which is good. We like proving people wrong.”

McInnes men thrashed St Johnstone on their way to claiming their first trophy in 19 years but their Fair City opponents have never lifted major silverware.

Wright admits that wait will continue if they defend as poorly on Sunday as they have done already this season against the Reds.

“The fact we haven’t scored against Aberdeen this season shows how difficult a side they are to beat,” he said. “They don’t give many chances away but looking back on the games we have played them this season, we have contributed a lot to their success.

“For example, the home game, we gave the ball away cheaply and then in the semi-final, three of the goals were basically counter attacks.

“So we need to make sure we limit the number of mistakes we make because they can punish you.

“They have so much quality. Niall McGinn is hitting form, Peter Pawlett has had a really good season and with Adam Rooney, they have someone who leads the line well.”

Wright has used his friendship with Celtic boss Neil Lennon to arrange the use of the Hoops’ Lennoxtown training base in the run up to the semi-final.

Having already clinched top-six football for the remainder of the Scottish Premiership season, Wright now wants to end his first season as Perth boss with a shot at glory at the Celtic Park trophy decider on May 17.

“We had a difficult summer because we had to reduce our budget considerably, as we’ve had to do over the last two or three seasons,” said the Northern Irishman. “But to have finished in the top six is a real highlight for the players and I’m pleased with that.

“It’s been a good season. It doesn’t surprise me that we’ve done so well because of the character of the players we have assembled. There are no prima donnas, and they all work extremely hard. When people are left out, they just get on with working hard to get back in the team.

“To get to two semi-finals is nice, but nobody likes losing these games. We’ve already lost one semi-final, so now we have got to win on Sunday by hook or by crook and get into that final.”

 

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