Hasselbaink says he could leave Saints in summer

Nigel Hasselbaink has started just twice for Lomas' team since the turn of the year. Picture: SNS
Nigel Hasselbaink has started just twice for Lomas' team since the turn of the year. Picture: SNS
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STRIKER Nigel Hasselbaink has told St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas to start playing him or let him leave in the summer.

The former Hamilton and St Mirren attacker moved to McDiarmid Park a year ago but has started just twice for Lomas’ team since the turn of the year. Of his 38 appearances for Saints, 21 have come from the bench and the Dutchman admits he is growing frustrated.

Now the 22-year-old says he may have to move on in the summer if he cannot convince his Northern Irish manager of his talents. Hasselbaink said: “I just want to play at a higher level and work on more of my strengths. That’s why I came here to Saints. But I know I need to play more games.

“The boys are great and it’s a good club – I’ve enjoyed my time here. However, for myself, I’d like to have played more games and the gaffer knows that. It’s his decision and I have to respect that. I have to keep training hard and try to change his mind. I just need a chance. The gaffer knows what I can do but it’s up to him. The hardest thing to do as a player is to change a manager’s mind.

“It is hard for any player not to play, not just me. It’s been a difficult time because I haven’t started games for weeks. I don’t know what is the right thing to do. Do I need to stay here because I have a year left on my contract, or does the gaffer have other plans for me?

“I think I will have to go speak to him in the next couple of weeks and see what the plans are because if he is not going to use me, maybe it’s better if we split ways.”

St Johnstone face Inverness today in a televised noon showdown, and Caledonian Thistle manager Terry Butcher has predicted a “titanic battle” in Perth between the Europa League hopefuls.

The sides have produced three draws in their previous meetings this season and only four points separate them with Caley Thistle occupying the crucial third spot in the SPL.

Butcher said: “It’s set for a titanic battle. I’m sure it will be uncompromising and tough, but both teams are well capable of playing some good football. Both teams have players who can be match-winners.

“Meaty, I think I would call it. It could be potentially very meaty. Not for the faint-hearted. St Johnstone last year got Europe and want a repeat of that. We’re in uncharted territory. If we play the way we like to play and get stuck in as well and match St Johnstone’s physical attributes, then we have players who can win games as well.”

One of those players is Andrew Shinnie, who is looking to cap a memorable week with three points. The 23-year-old playmaker, who has netted 15 goals this season, confirmed a summer move to Birmingham on Monday before being named in the four-man shortlist for the PFA Scotland player of the year award.

His brother, Inverness left back Graeme Shinnie, said: “I’m delighted for him. It’s good for the club that players from Caley Thistle are up for this nomination. Hopefully he can go on and win it, it would be brilliant for him. People know he’s leaving now so for him to go out as player of the year would be fantastic.”