The St Johnstone players are looking on the run-in to their January break as the chance to earn themselves some breathing space away from the Premiership relegation battle, according to Michael O’Halloran.
A decent points total from the matches against Hearts, St Mirren, Hamilton and Ross County would take the Perth side away from the drop-zone and into more familiar territory of seasons gone by.
That’s the positive mindset in the Perth camp ahead of today’s trip to Tynecastle, O’Halloran pointed out, rather than worrying about their plight should things go wrong over the next couple of weeks.
“It would be a big statement if we can get our first away win of the season,” said the former Rangers and Bolton forward.
“It would be a good time to sort that out at a place like Tynecastle.
“That would give us a huge boost going into the games coming up.
“There are big games coming up. We are playing teams around us.
“We want to be going into the winter break in a more comfortable position. We don’t want to be down at the bottom. It’s not nice and it is a scrap.
“I look around at the players in the changing room and we shouldn’t be down there.
“But we are the ones that have to get ourselves out of it.
“It’s a real surprise ourselves and Hearts are down there at this stage of the season.
“But put together a few wins and you quickly start moving up a pretty tight league.”
Coming up against Hearts players and fans full of new manager excitement isn’t getting into the heads of the Saints squad.
“It will be a tough test for us against Hearts,” said O’Halloran.
“They have got a new manager in and they will take a lift from that.
“There will be a big turn-out, maybe even a full house. But we will enjoy that. The fans are right on top of you there and it will be a great atmosphere.
“It is a bear pit but players love it. I have played in two cup semi-finals at Tynecastle and it was a great experience.
“The new manager seems to want to change their style of play.
“We have to be wary of Hearts obviously but it is important we concentrate on how we want to play.
“We have to be going there in a positive frame of mind after a good point away to Kilmarnock. We got a good clean sheet there.”
O’Halloran made his first start since September in the 0-0 draw at Rugby Park, with three other players in form the sidelines making an impact as well.
“It was great to get back into the team at Kilmarnock,” he said. “I have had to be patient.
“It has been disappointing to go so long without playing.
“I just kept myself ticking over, waiting for my chance.
“Obviously I am happy to be back in at a busy and important time for the club.”
O’Halloran added: “The return of Liam Gordon and the experience of Callum Booth and Liam Craig probably helped us.
“We can take confidence from the Kilmarnock game and the home win against Hearts.
“We have lost sloppy goals rather than being cut open in games.
“But the defenders did really well as a unit. We were very solid against Killie.
“I can’t remember clear cut chances because we nullified them.
“If we can continue that way we can get a result at Tynecastle.”
Tommy Wright, who confirmed he is hoping to extend Booth’s contract beyond January, doesn’t believe the much talked about ‘gegenpressing’ style of Daniel Stendel will be anything he or his players haven’t previously encountered.
He said: “There’s nothing new about pressing high. We have been doing that for years. It’s not exactly rocket science.
“I have watched a few of his early games this season at Barnsley so I know how he wants his team to play and how he will set-up.
“It is a simple enough message to give your players, to work hard and press the opposition.
“Our players should be fully aware of what to expect.
“When you are down at the bottom of the table every game is vital.
“It’s an important game. We have four coming up which will determine how difficult or easy it is going to be to get out of the trouble we are in.
“If we do really well we can get ourselves up the table. But Hearts are our main focus.”