Kelty Hearts star Joe Cardle has said Max Kucheriavyi has the talent and mentality to break into the St Johnstone first team.
The pair linked up last season as the Maroon Machine romped to the League 2 title.
The 20-year-old Ukrainian midfielder joined Kelty on loan at the start of the year and played a key part in the run-in, scoring the goal that sealed the championship.
While all this was playing out Kucheriavyi’s home nation was invaded by Russia – in May he opened up about its impact on his family.
Cardle thinks that during this period Kucheriavyi displayed the required attributes and attitude to make his mark in Perth this season.
Last season’s League 2 player of the year said: “Max was very good. He came in at a point in the season when we were slacking a wee bit.
“Even though we were winning games we weren’t playing to our full potential.
🏆 The goal that clinched the title…
— SPFL (@spfl) March 28, 2022
“I think the little man came in at a good time. He scored the crucial goal for us winning the league.”
‘A very special young boy’
What impressed Cardle the most was his ability to shut out the horrific scenes across Ukraine and perform from week to week.
“The way he reacted, the way he got on with the job in hand was something that I think everyone was in awe of,” he said.
“He’s a special young boy, he’s got a lot of talent. And he’s obviously got the mindset for it as well.
“I really do wish him well and hopefully he’ll breakthrough into the St Johnstone first team this season.”
Before starring for Kelty, Kucheriavyi spent time on loan at Brechin city where he bagged nine goals and eight assists across 19 matches.
🎯 On the back of numerous assists already this season, Ukranian playmaker Max Kucheriavyi opened his account for the Club in style with a pinpoint stoppage time free kick against @RothesFC.
— Brechin City FC (@BrechinCityFC) August 17, 2021
He is now targeting breaking into the Saints side this season as they bid to improve on the 11th-placed finish last campaign.
New signing will ‘set league alight’
Cardle also expects St Johnstone new boy Graham Carey to excel on his return to Scotland.
The pair played together at Ross County during the 2014/15 season and have kept in touch since – despite the left-sided attacker spending time in Bulgaria.
Carey started off as a Celtic youth before signing for St Mirren in 2011 and moving to Dingwall two years later, working under Derek Adams.
He then rejoined Adams in English League 2 with Plymouth, picking up the League 2 award for best player – voted for by fans – in 2016 and making the division’s team of the season the following year.
That earned him a move to a foreign land not considered by many Scots players when he joined CSKA Sofia in 2019.
The 33-year-old Irishman turned down other offers in Scotland before choosing McDiarmid Park as his next destination, signing a two-year deal.
“I was happy for him because my wife keeps in touch with his, and she’s not been very well recently,” said Cardle.
“So I’m happy that he’s home, closer to his family.
“I’m sure he’ll set that league alight this season.”