ST JOHNSTONE will face a journey to Malta or Belarus if they can see off Norwegian league leaders Rosenborg on home soil. The ball is in the Perth club’s court after their stunning 1-0 win in Trondheim.
But manager Tommy Wright, who became the first Saints manager to secure an away win in Europe in his first game at the helm, cautioned that they won’t get ahead of themselves.
After the third qualifying round draw, talk of Valletta or FC Minsk – who are locked at 1-1 – is going on the back burner as Wright concentrates on completing the job against Rosenborg on Thursday. And the Northern Irishman insists tomorrow’s friendly against local rivals Dundee is perfect preparation for the European game.
He said: “Obviously we know what awaits us now if we can progress, but no-one is looking further than the Rosenborg game. I don’t see the game against Dundee as an inconvenience. It’s going to be valuable for us.
“A lot of the lads got the full 90 minutes in Norway but we still have a big enough squad that a few players will benefit from a run against Dundee.
“It will be a decent test for us and boys like Rory Fallon, Brian Easton, Gwion Edwards, Stevie May, Liam Caddis and a few others will get game time before the second leg and the start of the SPFL season. There will be a few from Thursday’s game involved as well.
“I’m well aware there’s that bit of local rivalry between the supporters but we had planned this game knowing we were in Europe. Because it is a derby, I suppose it could get a bit tasty but I don’t think it will.
“The result in Trondheim makes no difference to our way of thinking. With Europe in mind, we asked for the game to be put back to Sunday because originally it was marked down for Saturday.”
Wright admits the players deserve all the praise coming their way, knowing if they can preserve a proud unbeaten home sequence in European competition they will be off on their travels again.
Reflecting on the Trondheim triumph he said: “I was pleased for everybody with the performance and the result. And the new boys have settled in quickly.
“We showed some great touches and excellent link-up play, especially between David Wotherspoon and Stevie MacLean. David’s delivery of the corner for Frazer’s goal was excellent.
“We toyed with the idea of playing Gary McDonald further forward because he has a great engine and he can get up to support the strikers. He did extremely well. After the game I told the players how well they had done and stressed they should savour the result because this sort of thing doesn’t come along too often.
“Winning away from home is a tremendous achievement. It is a difficult thing to do. Nobody really gave us a chance against a side of Rosenborg’s quality.
“But they pulled it off against a very good and experienced side.
“They deserve all the accolades coming their way and the positive press we are getting. But I had to remind them it is only half-time. The job is still only half done. It’s nowhere near finished yet.”