St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson is ready to savour ‘special’ night at McDiarmid Park

CALLUM DAVIDSON admits it will be a special moment when St Johnstone take to the field in front of a packed out McDiarmid Park on Thursday. 

Saints fans have bought tickets in their thousands ahead of the club’s Europa League second leg clash against Galatasaray and the match is now close to a sell-out. 

Davidson has witnessed full capacities in Perth both as a player and as an assistant manager in the past, but it will be a proud moment for the 45-year-old to experience such an occasion for the first time as a manager of the club that means so much to him. 

“It is brilliant. A full house at McDiarmid will be pretty special,” he beamed. “Most stadiums when you get a full house it becomes pretty special. 

“As a local lad it is great. I have been inundated with ticket requests so maybe that is where all the tickets have gone! This is why we try to fight and win the Scottish Cup.  

“There is an obvious achievement there but the bonus is getting night game under the floodlights. I know as a player there is nothing better. I loved that type of game and I am really looking forward to it. 

“The timing has been pretty good so we can supporters through the door. We had a couple of thousand at our previous games and we had a good atmosphere over in Turkey. 

“It will be a great atmosphere. It is going to be a really tough game and I think it is really important that the supporters realise that Galatasaray are a top team. 

“They are one of the best in Europe and we are going to fight and give our energy to the game. Hopefully they can support us with that.” 

Davidson is unsure whether the experience of winning two cup finals last term will help his team with regard to knockout football in Europe. 

But the Saints boss knows that the belief within his squad will certainly play a key role in how proceedings pan out. 

He continued: “It is a totally different game because we are at McDiarmid in front of 10,000 supporters. What we will take from those games is the belief that we can perform on big occasions. 

“Zander Clark’s performance in Galatasaray was phenomenal and they all know they can perform on the big stage. We need to repeat it again and make sure we are solid in defence. We need to make sure we don’t open any gaps. 

“I thought they cut us open a little bit too easy over there if I am going to be critical. We need to make sure we shut the door on that.” 

Davidson also confirmed that captain Jason Kerr should return for St Johnstone after missing Sunday’s Scottish Premiership draw against Motherwell. 

Kerr netted Saints’ penalty over in Turkey and his manager will be delighted to welcome him back into his starting line-up. 

He explained: “Jason trained today so we will need to wait and see if there was any reaction to that. 

“I am hoping that he is okay. He is desperate to play. Young Hayden Muller was really good when he came in on Sunday, but Jason is my captain. 

“There are two or three positions I am not sure of. Callum Booth didn’t make the start because of injury but he came in on Sunday and proved that he can play at a good  level for 90 minutes.   

“It gives me a difficult decision. Reece has been excellent. He’s a young lad who has come and played two massive games for me. That will be a tough decision. 

“Craig Bryson is still a couple of weeks away. He will miss this one and probably the next European tie as well. 

“Glenn Middleton can’t play. After the first leg, you can’t just add players. Fortunately, they have just signed somebody for £10million so they can’t add him.” 

In a transfer update on Eetu Vertainen, Davidson added: “We are in the later stages of it so hopefully we will have something more concrete pretty soon. The sooner the better.”

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