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St Johnstone: Wright in no mood to go gung-ho

St Johnstone midfielder Scott Brown is hoping to play a prominent role against Luzern. Picture: SNS

St Johnstone midfielder Scott Brown is hoping to play a prominent role against Luzern. Picture: SNS

  • by CRAIG FORBES
 

TOMMY Wright insists St Johnstone won’t be reckless as they bid to prolong their Europa League adventure.

After Steven MacLean’s away goal secured a 1-1 draw for Saints against Luzern in Switzerland last Thursday, the Perth side know a goalless draw back in the Fair City tonight will be good enough to book a third qualifying round date with FC Zestafoni of Georgia or Slovakia’s Spartak Trnava.

The Perth manager stressed: “We don’t have to chase it but it would be foolhardy of us to sit in all the time. I think that, at home, we can cause them more problems than we did across in Switzerland. We have confidence that we can score again against them.

“Stevie May coming back will give us a big lift and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does against them. He gives us a different dimension and I don’t think they’ll have played against too many players like him.”

Wright was impressed with the Swiss on home soil and believes that they pose a greater threat than Norwegian side Rosenborg, whom Saints famously eliminated from the competition a year ago.

He said: “Luzern have a few options and the two substitutes they brought on did very well so they might freshen it up. They’ve had another league game as well so they might make a couple of changes.

“If we’re set out, work to the gameplan and keep ourselves in the game then I think we can score a goal.

“Luzern caused us more problems than Rosenborg last season, so it’s every bit as difficult – if not more. We’re looking at having over 8,000 and maybe 9,000 at the game.

“We’ve come back from Switzerland with the tie alive, just like we did against Rosenborg, Minsk and Eskisehirspor in the past. European ties catch the imagination of the fans and, if you have a chance in them, the fans will turn out.

“Those European nights can be very special, we had one against Rosenborg last season.”

Teenage midfielder Scott Brown hopes to play a prominent part tonight after admitting he felt like an outsider looking in as St Johnstone partied after winning the William Hill Scottish Cup.

The Glasgow-born 19-year-old made just his third start for the club in Switzerland last 
Thursday and has endured a frustrating spell since quitting Bradford last summer to return north. He was left out of Wright’s cup final squad and admits he felt a fraud joining in the cup celebrations after Saints’ 2-0 win over Dundee United at Celtic Park.

He said: “I’m feeling better now I have played a few games. Last season I felt like an outsider because I wasn’t playing much. I got a game against Celtic towards the end of the season which helped and so has being involved at the start of this 
season. The team did well last year and it’s always great to see the team winning, but I never really felt part of it. The cup final was hard for me to watch because I was desperate to be involved in the team.

“I was delighted for the boys but as much as they tried to get me to join in with the celebrations, I felt a bit left out. But that disappointment has stood me in good stead. It’s just made me hungrier to make a difference this year and, hopefully, I can do that against Luzern.”

With last season’s 27-goal striker Stevie May likely to start after recovering from a thigh strain, Brown expects Saints to attack.

“Having Stevie back is a massive boost,” he said. “Any chance he gets, he usually takes. If we can create two or three we should hopefully get a goal.

“Being the home side, the onus will be on us to attack, especially with it being 1-1. A goalless draw will get us through but no-one will want to sit in at home, so I think we will look to get a goal.”

 

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