Callum Davidson urges his St Johnstone players to show their double winning belief against Galatasaray

CALLUM DAVIDSON has urged his St Johnstone players to bring back the double winning belief of last season when they take on Galatasaray in the Europa League. 

Saints are in Istanbul where they will take on the Turkish giants in the first leg of their third-round qualifying tie at the Fatih Terim Stadium. 

Davidson believes the European double header is just rewards for the Perth outfit’s historic achievements last term, but the McDiarmid Park boss is adamant that his team aren’t making the trip just to make up the numbers. 

“For a club like St Johnstone to draw a club like Galatasaray is something to really look forward to,” he explained. “I was a bit concerned when it looked like Covid issues might stop us playing the second leg at our home ground. 

“That would have been a big blow. This is a reward for everybody, fans included – and getting a big crowd at Perth is really important to us. 

“For the players, especially the young ones, it will be a great football experience – playing one of the top teams in Europe, which you don’t get to do very often. What I will say is the lads performed brilliantly on the big occasion last season. 

“I’ve got high demands of them and I expect no different in this one. We were probably slightly off our level on Saturday [against Ross County] – the players know that – but I’m confident we’ll be back on it for this one.” 

The Perth outfit kicked off their Scottish Premiership campaign in the Highlands on Saturday when they drew a blank with Ross County in Dingwall. 

And Davidson was delighted to get a competitive game under his belt before entering the Europa League. 

He continued: “That was important for us. It’s very hard when you come back at the beginning of June. 

“We’ve managed to get ourselves further forward in the tournament this time and have started our league season before playing in Europe for a change. This is a huge tie. 

“We are the underdogs – but that was the same in the final of the Scottish Cup and even more so in the quarter-final at Ibrox. 

“Belief is a big thing. The first priority is to still be in the tie when we go back to McDiarmid Park. I think the players have belief. The games last season proved that.  

“The squad hasn’t changed much. Ideally I would like to have one or two more in the squad. We lost a couple of attacking players and we are working really hard to get attacking players in before the game.  

“Whether that happens or not I am not sure. We will continue trying. They all know they can perform and what I have is a really good group of players who all get along with each other.” 

Davidson provided an injury update ahead of Saints’ flight to Turkey and he revealed that Craig Bryson would miss out due to a knock sustained against Fleetwood in pre-season. 

He said: “Craig Bryson is the only one who will miss out. He tweaked his medial knee ligament in a tackle against Fleetwood and hasn’t recovered in time. Hopefully it will only be a couple of weeks. 

“Callum Booth is back in and Stevie May and Chris Kane have both trained hard. They’re in contention for a start. 

“I had to take training down a notch. Everyone was staying outside wanting to practice things.  

“There is a level of excitement running through their veins at the moment, so it is down to me to ensure that they are ready and focussed.”  

In a transfer update on Finnish striker Eetu Vertainen, Davidson added: “The boys are working really hard behind the scenes. They are working hard to get it done so hopefully we can get it sorted as soon as possible.  

“It is taking a little bit longer just now because of changes in rules and laws. It is taking a little longer than we had hoped for.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992