St Johnstone line up a Tulloch tear-up as Callum Davidson's underdogs bid to upset the odds again

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson.  (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Callum Davidson has urged his ‘big game players’ to repeat their heroics of Hampden and Istanbul and take LASK Linz back to McDiarmid Park for a Tulloch ‘tear-up’.

St Johnstone have already proven their credentials on the big stage after four wins at Hampden last year led them to the Scottish Cup and Betfred Cup double, and in the heat of Turkey they were anything but cowed in a creditable 1-1 draw against Galatasaray.

Whenever they’ve not been fancied the Saints have shown up and similar is required in Austria with a place in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League group stage at stake. Davidson though, has backed his players to produce once again and take the tie back to Perth for a repeat of the packed-house European experience a fortnight ago.

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“We showed in big games last year we can perform well and I think that is the biggest message I can probably give to them,” said the manager ahead of his final preparatory training session at the Worthersee Stadion. “They performed in the big games and did it consistently, now we make sure we go and do it again.

“This is a chance to do something pretty special for St Johnstone and qualify for this group stage so we need to make sure whatever we do, we do it right and do it to the best of our ability.

“A good result is making sure the tie comes back to Scotland and there is something to play for. That is the important thing when playing away in Europe. It is important that we stay in the game as long as we can and cause them problems as well. We have to make sure we are at it like we were in Istanbul, show that discipline and the mindset has to be there.

“It's a huge prize financially and for the players personally. As a backroom staff as well we all want to get there and we all want to compete in Europe. Winning the cup has allowed us to do so, so hopefully we get a result that means we can take it back to McDiarmid Park and have a good tear-up back at home.”

While the Saints were last season’s surprise package in Scotland’s cup competitions LASK were the same in the Europa League, eliminating Sporting Lisbon before holding Spurs to a group stage draw and winning three times against Ludogorets and Royal Antwerp and finishing third. Davidson has labelled them favourites for this tie – but the unfamiliar tag could shift pressure in Saints’ favour: "We will be underdogs, trying to replicate the performance we had in Istanbul.

“Last year LASK were very good and had some great results and got to last year's Austrian Cup final so they are a very good team and very strong.

“They had an unbelievable result to get into the Europa League so they know what it is like to be there, and in our [underdog] position so hopefully we can use that and try to put pressure on them that way.”

Davidson will be without the self-isolating David Wotherspoon while the delayed arrival of new signing Eetu Vertainen also rules the Finnish striker out, but Rangers loanee Glenn Middleton is among his European playing pool.

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