Jason Kerr speaks on St Johnstone future after being linked with Hibs and other clubs

St Johnstone have been beset by disappointing Covid-19 news in the build-up to Saturday’s Scottish Cup final, but they can take two fillips into this week from the weekend.

St Johnstone captain Jason Kerr.

The first is the confirmation of European football for the first time in four years, after a 0-0 draw against Livingston secured fifth place in the Premiership. Guaranteed a spot in the newly-formed Europa Conference League second qualifying round, they can catapult themselves into the Europa League final play-off round if they defeat Hibs at Hampden.

The second is the admission from club captain Jason Kerr that, as he enters the final year of his contract at McDiarmid Park, that he is open to extending his deal beyond the summer of 2022.

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Kerr, 24, has been one of St Johnstone’s best players for a number of years now and has a host of suitors, not least Hibs. His stock has risen since lifting the Betfred Cup in February, with clamour increasing for a Scotland call-up. He is synonymous with what Saints have achieved in recent seasons and to lose him would be a big blow to manager Callum Davidson.

“Definitely,” replied Kerr when asked whether he would entertain discussions on a new contract. “I’ve got another year left on my contract but I’m definitely open to talks. My future is with St Johnstone and I really want to play European football with the club.

"There’s so much excitement about what we’re doing just now and what we can go on to do in the future."

That excitement had been dulled to some extent by an outbreak of Covid-19 that has threatened to derail preparations for their Hampden showdown with the Hibees. Some players are still isolating and Davidson does not expect to have any more than two days of full training before Saturday.

“It’s been really tough,” Kerr said of the past week. “We haven’t had as many training sessions as we would have wanted since the semi-final but we’ve got through it so far.

“There’s no good time to catch the virus obviously but from our point of view the timing was really bad.

“It’s been a bit anxious but we knew that we had the sort of depth in our squad that would mean we could keep getting results, which we’ve proven again.

“Now we’ll get players back for Saturday. We’ve been sensible all season but there will definitely be a bit of added caution in the build-up to the final. We all want to be ready for it.”

Kerr caught the virus himself earlier in the year and is well-placed to comment on what some of his team-mates will be experiencing.

“I felt fine in my first game back,” added Kerr.

“Obviously you can’t do as much fitness work as you would want when you’re in the house but we’re professional footballers. Ten days isn’t too bad. As long as you get a couple of training sessions before a game you’re good to go.

“We’ve played a lot of football. It’s not as if we need to build our fitness up.”

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