'Old fashioned': How St Johnstone plan to keep Rangers out at Ibrox

Alex Mitchell is hoping his old-school defensive qualities can help St Johnstone pick up a result away to Rangers on Saturday.

In an era when there is so much focus on centre-backs being able to start attacks by playing out from the back, the robust 20-year-old is proud of the fact his game is based primarily on an unwavering desire to keep the ball out of his own net.

Mitchell is keen to develop the other side of his game during his season-long loan at McDiarmid Park from Millwall, but his defensive attributes are sure to be required in Saturday’s match against last season’s Europa League finalists at Ibrox.

“I think I’m a bit of an old-fashioned player,” he said.

Alex Mitchell in action for St Johnstone during a cinch Premiership match between Motherwell and St. Johnstone at Fir Park, on August 06, 2022, in Motherwell, Scotland.

“My coaches say I’m the type that’s a bit of a dying breed. I like to defend, as has been made clear, and I feel like I bring leadership qualities talking-wise.

“It’s a quality I’m quite proud of. It’s quite rare to see a centre-half just head and kick everything, but I like to think I do that.

“On the ball, I’d say I’m quite able as well but I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve and defend first.

“As a middle centre-half, it’s quite easy just to give the ball to one of the other centre-halves or somebody else close to you but hopefully over the season I get the chance to play on the right or left of the three and work on driving out with the ball. If I play games, I think that will all improve naturally.

“I’m 20 now so hopefully by the time I’m 25, 26 I’ve got 150-200 games under my belt and I’ll be delighted.”

Mitchell has impressed in his first two games for Saints as part of a back three alongside veteran duo Ryan McGowan and Andrew Considine, and he intends to learn as much as he can from his more experienced colleagues.

“As a back three these last two games I feel like we’ve all done it together,” he said. “In fact the whole back five and the goalie have been fantastic.

“Gowser and Andy have been brilliant with me. They’re top professionals. (Captain) Liam Gordon as well, even though he’s had his injury problems. There’s four really good choices there for three at the back.

“All three of them are great professionals and they’re great lads as well. They’re helping me.

“For example, before the Motherwell game, Liam Gordon pulled me and was just chatting to me, calming me down, and that sort of professionalism and friendliness goes a long way.”

Mitchell knows Saints are big underdogs for their trip to Ibrox but is relishing the test against a team aiming to reach the Champions League group stages.

“I remember watching Rangers in the Europa League final so to watch that and then have a chance to play against them at Ibrox is a big opportunity for myself,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. That’s why you play football, to play against the best.”