Lomas wants clean sheet as Saints bid for three wins in a row

ST JOHNSTONE manager Steve Lomas anticipates a difficult challenge as his side go in search of a third straight Clydesdale Bank Premier League victory at Inverness today.

After Lomas’s reign began with seven points from three games – a draw with defending champions Rangers, plus wins over Hibernian and Hearts – Saints lost to Motherwell, Aberdeen and Celtic.

They bounced back in convincing fashion, winning 3-0 at Dunfermline and defeating Kilmarnock 2-0, to enter the new year in fourth place in the SPL and with aspirations of a European place come the end of the season.

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Lomas knows Saints must survive today’s trip to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium to prove their mettle for the remainder of the campaign.

He said: “It’s not an easy place to get a win but the lads have the challenge to go and get three wins on the bounce, which I don’t think has happened in a long time.

“I wasn’t really downhearted about them [the defeats]. I looked at the games in isolation and I didn’t think the Motherwell game was a 3-0.

“What I have been pleased about is the boys are back to being hard to score against. If you do that you’ve always got a chance. That’s probably the most pleasing aspect. To score five goals in two games is very good, but I was more pleased about the two clean sheets.

“If we want to win, we’ve got to look for a clean sheet when you go to Caley.”

Lomas’s assistant, Tommy Wright, was impressed with Inverness when scouting them at their 2-1 loss to Rangers at Ibrox and the Saints manager believes the Highland side’s ability belies their tenth-placed position in the table.

Lomas added: “Tommy watched them at Rangers and he thought it was the best performance he had seen from an SPL team since he’d been up here, so they must’ve been decent.

“We’ll have to be at our best. We know it’s going to be tough because they’ve got some decent players and could probably be sitting further up the table. They all work hard for each other, they’ve got pace in the team and some good players.”

Midfielder Chris Millar is doubtful with a hamstring injury after limping off in the midweek win over Kilmarnock and was to be assessed ahead of the trip north.

Midfielder David Robertson (concussion) could return, but defender Frazer Wright (thigh) and striker Cillian Sheridan (hamstring) remain out.

Inverness are currently on a run of 22 games without a clean sheet and Tade admitted the squad’s collective new year resolution is to end the sequence.

Striker Gregory Tade said: “We still need to improve some aspects of our game and the motto for 2012 is to get a clean sheet and to win more games. It’s going to come.”