Jason Holt is ready to put his stop-start season behind him and give St Johnstone the midfield presence Tommy Wright had in mind when he signed the Rangers man on loan.
Holt has only started four games for the Perth side so far but he is likely to make it five at Fir Park this afternoon, with Murray Davidson suspended.
“I’m just happy to be back up to full fitness and back in the team after a niggling calf injury,” he said.
“It has been frustrating to be honest because it has been a bit stop-start for me.
“I missed the Rangers game because I couldn’t play against them and I have been in and out because of injury.
“So I haven’t played as many games as I’d have liked.
“But now I’m looking to stay in the team and keep the rhythm going.
“I felt good against Aberdeen after some hard training during the international break.”
The Saints squad will travel to Motherwell in good spirits after holding out against nine men at McDiarmid Park on Sunday.
“It was a good point for us in the end,” Holt said.
“Obviously you want to win your home games but we knew Aberdeen were going well.
“Going 1-0 down made it even more difficult for us so we were buzzing to hold on for a point after the two red cards.
“Murray made an attempt to get the ball but just mistimed it.
“He will be disappointed to miss two games now. But it’s amazing to think a midfielder like him hadn’t been sent off in more than 300 games for the club.
“Fair play to him. That is some stat.”
Holt is likely to have Ali McCann for company in central midfield and the former Hearts man is a big fan of Saints’ young star-in-the-making.
“I have been really impressed with him,” said Holt.
“Ali’s only 19 but he has been so good he’s made it impossible for the manager to drop him.
“It’s good to see a young lad getting his chance and taking it.
“Ali is a quiet lad but he’s doing his talking on the pitch. He certainly isn’t shy about things. I’m trying to help him as much as I can. I’m just happy to pass on anything that will help him.”
The closeness of the relegation battle, and the number of teams involved in it, reinforces the feeling of optimism in the Saints squad.
“We know we are bottom at the moment,” said Holt.
“But it’s important to keep morale high. And we aren’t alone. There are three other teams on exactly the same points.
“As a squad and staff we are aware of our situation. It’s not where we want to be and we want to improve it.
“It’s very tight down there and we have time to turn it around.
“Win two or three games and we could be in a totally different situation.
“Motherwell have had a great start, up there challenging Aberdeen for third spot.
“We played them here at home and they did well. But we missed a penalty and should have taken something from that game.
“If we perform we know we can take something from this game.
“It’s a strange run of fixtures.
“We have three away games now after taking seven points from 12 in a run of home matches.
“The fans have stayed behind us. They have been patient.
“When we went behind to Aberdeen they stuck with us.
“It can be easy for fans to turn but they gave us a right push towards the end when we were down to nine men.
“As players on the pitch that sort of backing definitely helps.”
Meanwhile, Wright is confident he has players to step in for Davidson and Callum Hendry.
“The good thing is that with everyone fit we have options,” he said.
“So we can cope with the loss of Murray and Callum.
“There will be senior players left out of games. Against Aberdeen Liam Craig and Danny Swanson didn’t make the bench.
“I have to look at it game to game to decide who starts or comes off the bench.
“It’s not nice being bottom. But if you look at the five teams above us there are only three points separating us.
“We are on a decent run and have to keep picking up points to try and get off the bottom.
“The positive thing is that we aren’t detached.
“Motherwell have had a good start to the season. They have had as many losses as us so they are beatable.
“But they have converted draws into wins by the odd goal and that is why they are sitting high up the league.
“They will be looking to cement top six because they haven’t done that for a few seasons.”