THERE is a sense of excitement throughout Perthshire and St Johnstone stalwart Murray Davidson can feel it.
Scotland’s double winners are set for a sell-out crowd at McDiarmid Park on Thursday as Callum Davidson’s team face off against Galatasaray in the Europa League.
The third-round qualifying tie is currently in the balance at 1-1 and midfielder Davidson, who is due a testimonial in Perth, has called on the home support to help him and his teammates over the line.
“It was important we got a positive result and kept the tie alive,” he explained. “Now, especially with it being only the first or second game back for most fans, then they will be buzzing for such a big game.
“The more we get in the better and if we sell out then it will be absolutely unbelievable. I’ve seen European nights where it can be a brilliant atmosphere and hopefully we get as close as possible to a sell-out on Thursday.
“We had such a successful season last year but there were no fans in. So to bring a big name like Galatasaray here for such a big game all adds up to being a big crowd.
“We are buzzing because we’ve seen the Rosenborg game, the Luzern game, the Eskisehirspor game and they are great nights and atmospheres. So the more we get through the gate the better and as a player you are buzzing to play in front of it.”
Davidson, who lives in Perth with his family, has noticed that excitement levels are through the roof after council bosses gave the all clear for a capacity attendance.
He continued: “You feel it in the city. It’s carried on from winning the two cups and even last week I was still getting people come up to me to talk about the double.
“Now I’m walking about Perth and people are asking about the Galatasaray game. As a player you are focused on playing but it’s not until you go out on the streets and realise how many people are involved in it.
“I saw flags hanging out windows this morning again and it’s brilliant when people buy into it. Hopefully we get a massive crowd on Thursday.”
Saints scored via a Jason Kerr penalty last week and they also had a number of other chances that could have won them the game.
Davidson had an effort himself and he feels Saints proved that they can compete with the Turkish giants.
He said: “We all struggled for the first 20 minutes in Istanbul breathing wise. It was so humid. We were sort of took off our feet because it was a totally different air and your breathing was different.
“I think once we settled into the game we posed more of a threat going forward and limited their chances after a first 20 minutes where it looked like it could have been a long night.
“We more than held our own in the second half and away to Galatasaray that fills you with confidence because we came away with such a positive result.
“Not just the goal but we had a few other chances to score – Stevie May’s one, I’ve had one. There were chances and we know we have to put in another big performance but last week showed we’re capable.”
Asked if Saints’ experience of winning two cup finals last term could help them through the Euro tie, Davidson added: “Experience definitely helps. A few of the boys have played in Europe before. There are a few young ones in the squad as well but they are assured and nothing really fazes them, you saw that last year in every big game we played at Hampden.
“We have a squad that can handle the big stage and this Thursday is another big stage. That’s where you want to be playing.
“Let’s be honest, Galatasaray would much rather be playing the second leg at home with this scoreline.
“We know it will be just as difficult as last week and that a lot of people will still fancy Galatasaray because they’re such a big team. But we’ll believe in ourselves and we can’t wait for it.
“It would be up there [if Saints were to win]. Even with cup wins it’s not until a while after that you fully realise what you’ve done.
“This would be the same. Because they’re a world famous club, it would be huge. But we’re under no illusions that it will be very tough. We’re buzzing to have the chance to try and make it happen.”