St Mirren’s Dean Lyness aims to show St Johnstone boss he’s got Wright stuff

St Mirren goalkeeper Dean Lyness shouts instructions to his defenders during the Paisley side's 1-0 victory at Motherwell. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
St Mirren goalkeeper Dean Lyness shouts instructions to his defenders during the Paisley side's 1-0 victory at Motherwell. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
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Goalie Dean Lyness spent almost a month on trial with St Johnstone last summer before manager Tommy Wright decided that the 27-year-old, who had just been released by non-league Nuneaton Town, was surplus to requirements.

He signed for St Mirren instead shortly after Oran Kearney replaced Alan Stubbs as manager and this afternoon will attempt to show Wright what he’s been missing as the sides clash in Paisley.

“I was there for about three weeks,” he said. “It was the pre-season and I went away on their tour but things didn’t work out for whatever reason.

“At first I went in at the end of last season for a couple of days and then I went back pre-season. Fortunately, after that didn’t work out, St Mirren gave me a chance.

“I was training at Raith 
Rovers because I’m based in Edinburgh so it was good that I had the chance to stay fit. That was my main aim – to be as fit and as ready as possible so that, when the chance came, I could take it.”

The Englishman helped the Buddies claim their first clean sheet on the road under Kearney in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Motherwell and Lyness wants to use that as a platform.

“We knew how big it was and, hopefully, we can build on that,” he said. “I’ve had to be patient to get a chance here and it’s frustrating when you aren’t playing but you just have to keep yourself right and make sure that, when an opportunity comes your way, you’re ready to take it.

“There’s enough quality in this squad to stay up. You’ve seen the character we have, especially in the last four or five weeks. We’ve really progressed without getting the results. We remained patient and it’s nice to finally get a reward.”

Makeshift St Johnstone striker Matty Kennedy hopes to settle down permanently up front after hearing Steven 
Gerrard sing his praises. The former Kilmarnock and Everton youngster had never played as a central frontman before being handed the role by boss Tommy Wright against Motherwell in October. But he has excelled since, netting five goals in nine games.

Sunday’s clash with Rangers was a further step into the unknown for the 24-year-old as he was asked to lead the line by himself. Previously Kennedy had always had strike partner Tony Watt to work off but he did so well Gers boss Gerrard even picked him out for special mention after watching him put Saints ahead just before the break.

The Ibrox manager – whose side hit back for a 2-1 win – said: “I was really impressed with St Johnstone. In the first half, Kennedy was really good, a top 45 minutes. He was a constant thorn in our side.”

Kennedy said: “I’ve only played striker a few times, maybe eight games now. Before coming to St Johnstone I’d never played there at all.

“I was up on my own against Rangers and that was also new, I’d never played as a lone striker either. The gaffer just said to me, ‘Go up there, we’ll try to get you the ball and see what you can do’.

“I felt I did well and I’ll only learn the more I play there. It’s definitely a confidence booster to hear Steven Gerrard praising my performance.

“With every game I’ve played there, I think I’ve got better and better. If Steven Gerrard thinks I can play up top, then who am I to argue?”

Kennedy is convinced a repeat of their Rangers showing will be more than good enough to get St Johnstone back to winning ways today.

He added: “If we play like we did on Sunday against the majority of teams in this league, then we’ll win.

“It didn’t happen against Rangers but we know that performance is good enough to beat most teams in the league.”