St Johnstone “can’t carry passengers” if they are going to end their decade-long home winless run against Rangers on Sunday, according to Tommy Wright.
Ten games have passed since Saints’ last McDiarmid Park triumph over the Ibrox side, nine of those defeats.
And even though Steven Gerrard’s team have been struggling on the road since the winter break, that doesn’t change the task for Wright’s men.
The job description when you’re facing the Old Firm is written in stone.
“You can hopefully set-up to be defensively sound and make it difficult for the opposition,” said Wright.
“When you play the better teams, you have to work that bit harder to stop them.
“When you win the ball back, you have got to be prepared to keep it, get your team up the pitch and ask questions.
“It’s important we play well. If we don’t, it doesn’t matter what sort of results Rangers have had away from home.
“When you come up against a team with their quality, you need everybody. We can’t carry passengers.”
In his substitute appearance against Motherwell and his start in Dingwall, on-loan Bournemouth midfielder Matt Butcher has shown that he could have an important role to play in making sure Wright gets the quality on the ball in transition from defence to attack that he is demanding.
“We are fortunate that Matt has come in and done very well,” he said. “He looks a really good signing at this early stage.
“I’ve been very pleased with him, particularly as he hasn’t played a lot of football.
“He hadn’t played a full 90 minutes in a while and we knew that was a wee bit of a risk.
“But I think everyone can see his qualities. He is good on the ball, strong and was excellent on Saturday.
“He ran out of legs towards the end which is understandable. He is a great lad to work with and a great lad about the dressing room.”
From a side staring a relegation battle in the face a couple of months ago, Saints have been transformed into one that is much closer to fifth place (six points) than it is the bottom (12).
“I’m trying to drive my players on to keep hopes of the top six alive,” said Wright.
“Every win between now and game 33 is going to be vital for that.
“The players should be full of confidence because of the level and quality of performances over the last few months.
“Very few people would have seen us getting away from the bottom of the table.
“We’re still eighth but points wise, we’ve opened up a gap from 11th and 12th.
“We need to maintain that and hopefully also try and close on teams up to fifth.”
For Rangers, Sunday’s game comes in the middle of their Europa League clashes with Braga.
On whether Saints can use that to their advantage, Wright said: “I think when you’re a big club you have enough players to deal with it.
“They should have enough experience to deal with it.
“As a club they have been in Europe quite a bit.
“At this time of the year pitches are heavier. Will it make any difference? I’m not really sure, with sports science and everything in the game now.
“Domestically the big one for Rangers is to stop Celtic winning the league. With the gap opening up as it has after the winter break, they probably can’t afford any more slip-ups.
“But the league title race isn’t my concern.”
Liam Craig trained yesterday so comes back into contention. Murray Davidson is still out.
Wright reported: “It will be at least another week before Murray’s cast comes off but he has been able to keep general fitness up.”