Tommy Wright insists that St Johnstone will handle the loss of top scorer Danny Swanson when he leaves for Ladbrokes Championship winners Hibernian.
The winger, who has penned a pre-contract agreement with the Easter Road club, slammed home his 15th goal of the campaign from the penalty spot to secure a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle, confirming fourth place and entry to the Europa League qualifying draw next month for Saints.
Swanson, who was fined for his part in an altercation with dressing room colleague Richard Foster at Hamilton recently, has played a crucial role in St Johnstone’s fifth European qualification in six years under Wright and his predecessor Steve Lomas.
Wright saw his team seal fourth spot before the midweek home clash with Hearts and said: “Life goes on. Stevie May went [to Sheffield Wednesday] and everyone said we couldn’t replace him.
“We didn’t that year, actually. We got only 34 goals and finished fourth. As a manager and tactically that was a great season.
“Michael O’Halloran has gone [to Rangers] and we replaced him.
“Danny Swanson is going and we will find somebody else. But Danny goes with my good wishes.
“He has proved that he still wants to play for the club. His attitude was brilliant and he was quality. But we will go and find somebody else and we will hopefully continue to progress.”
Swanson enjoyed a standing ovation from home supporters after another influential performance, hot on the heels of a goal in a recent victory over Aberdeen, but Wright insisted he was not being given a chance to take a bow.
“I’m not sentimental. No chance,” maintained Wright, pictured. “He was tiring and young Craig Thomson has done extremely well. I don’t do sentiment in any shape or form, unless it is family.”
The winning penalty came in the 33rd minute. Irish striker Graham Cummins held up the ball before playing it into the path of Swanson. Defender Danny Devine was lured into a mistimed challenge in the danger area and Swanson was sent flying. Referee Stephen Finnie immediately signalled a penalty and the home team’s top scorer added to his tally with a well-executed effort.
“To get into Europe with two games to spare shows what a great season we have had and what a great group of players we have,” added Wright.
“I’m so proud of the players. It has been a tremendous season. It is the most satisfying season of them all because Rangers are back in the league and Hearts and other clubs strengthened after last season.”
Partick Thistle have also had a decent season but after this game manager Alan Archibald had cause to acknowledge the performance of Czech goalkeeper Tomas Cerny, who prevented a potential second-half rout with a series of fine saves.
Archibald, who has been linked with the vacant Swindon Town post in recent days, admitted his players had turned in a poor display, at odds with recent performances.
But the impressive Cerny, who was sidelined in the early stages of the season with an ankle injury, was absolved of blame for the defeat. “He has been superb all season. He has been brilliant since getting back to fitness,” said Archibald.
“He had a niggling injury for the first eight or nine games and we had to take him out. Since he has been back he has been outstanding.”