St Johnstone: Tommy Wright happy to dash home

TOMMY Wright would have loved to have downed a few Belarus beers to toast St Johnstone’s Europa League exploits.

But after sinking FC Minsk to bring the play-offs within touching distance, the Perth squad dashed to Grodno airport for a late flight home.

Chairman Steve Brown sanctioned a hefty payment to ensure the modest runway was opened-up specially for the 45-strong Perth party – because boss Wright was eager to get his players home and in the right frame of mind for tomorrow’s SPFL curtain raiser with Hearts at McDiarmid Park.

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“I don’t know how much money we paid to keep the airport open but it was important we got back that night,” he said. “We enjoyed our stay. Grodno is a lovely place and we would have liked to stay another night but for the players to recover for Sunday it was better to leave on Thursday after the game.

“I would have loved to have stayed and had a few beers in Grodno, but unfortunately we’ve got an important game and we had to travel back. That is the best preparation for the team.” His players were given a long lie-in before a work-out in the pool yesterday and they will have another light training session this morning. “Off the back of that we’ll assess who we think is the freshest and we’ll pick a team for Hearts accordingly,” said Wright.

He will have one enforced change with defender Frazer Wright suspended from last term when he was hit by a retrospective two-match ban after a flailing elbow clattered Celtic’s Mikael Lustig at Parkhead. Midfielder Gary McDonald soldiered on for 50 minutes in the 1-0 win in Grodno before being replaced by Murray Davidson, who showed no signs of ring-rust after just a handful of training sessions since penning a new deal.

Midfielder Chris Millar could come into contention after being left at home for treatment on his groin strain.

Reflecting on the midweek away win, Wright said: “I was very pleased to go away from home and to win, and keeping a clean sheet was important.

“We will start to think about the return leg after the Hearts game and not before.”