Liam Craig is confident Craig Bryson will make a big impact with St Johnstone.
An injury-plagued season-and-a-bit with Aberdeen which ended with his contract being torn up shouldn’t be the gauge of what the 33-year-old will add to a young Perth squad, according to his fellow midfielder.
It should be the canon of work he built up in the English Championship and Scottish Premiership in over a decade before it.
“You look at the level Craig’s played at throughout his career and you see that he’s going to enhance any team,” said Craig. “He’ll certainly do that here.
“Craig will add a lot of experience and ability to the squad. It will give us a boost and make it more competitive for places.
“Whenever this club has been successful in the past the squad has got us it. It has never been down to one or two players or the starting 11.
“He’s another one Ali McCann can really learn off. And it won’t just be midfielders. The other ones can benefit from the quality, experience and knowledge he brings.”
He added: “Last season boys like Liam Gordon, Jason Kerr, Jamie McCart, Callum Hendry and Ali learned a lot. They proved they’re more than capable of playing at this level and will be key to this club moving forward.
“It’s always good to add experience but the most important thing is that you’re adding quality. That’s what we’re doing with Craig.”
Bryson won’t start against Ross County this afternoon but in the subsequent weeks and months he will help share the workload in the middle of the pitch where numbers have been light.
“It’s been tough for me and Ali in there at times, with two in the middle and three up top,” said Craig. “But it has been enjoyable – the performances show that. I think the manager will be pleased at how well we’ve adapted to it.
“Because, as I’ve said the majority of our performances have been positive. We’ve moved the ball well and got into good areas. Now we just need to add the final bit.
“It’s shown that we’ve got a squad that can adapt to different formations and styles. We’ll be looking to turn these performances into wins – starting with Ross County tomorrow.”
Craig’s volleyed equaliser at Tannadice on the opening weekend of the season is one of only four goals scored by the Perth side in seven matches. The spotlight is on the strikers – Callum Hendry, in particular – to start improving that statistic.
“You look at what Mayso (Stevie May) and Kano (Chris Kane) have done throughout their careers and the season Callum had last year,” said the former Hibs and Falkirk man. “That proves they can score goals.
“It has been tough on Callum because his performances have deserved goals.
“His work-rate and link-up play have been excellent. It just hasn’t fallen for him in the box. But the performances have been really positive and we have been creating chances. If we keep doing that we definitely have players throughout the team who will score goals.
“Callum has been great in terms of how he has pressed and I’ve told him not to worry about scoring goals. They will come. He has proved he can score at this level.
“Obviously the onus has been on him because he has been the only fit striker since the start of the season.
“Strikers take it personally when they aren’t scoring and he just needs one to get him up and running. His performances have deserved a goal and hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.”
Any goal would be good for Hendry just now but the team priority is scoring the first one in a game for only the second time this season.
“It has been disappointing going behind,” said Craig.
“We lost an early goal against a Motherwell side who were struggling for a win and we gave them a lift after three or four minutes.
“After that we were the better side. So it is important we start well against Ross County.
“We have lost three games 1-0 to Motherwell, Aberdeen and Hibs. There’s not much between teams, as you have seen from the opening matches. So that first goal is important.
“That is the frustrating thing. We have got to put it right. If it means not playing well and grinding out a win we would love that.
“I have been here long enough now to know that we have found ways to win games without playing well. Right now we want a win and we will take it any way it comes.
“We have been solid defensively and looked good going forward.
“I was suspended for the St Mirren game and watching it as a player and a supporter you were delighted with how we were playing.
“It was just about that final bit, putting the ball in the back of the net.
“The energy and enthusiasm the boys are showing is great and I’m sure the results will come. It’s not something I’m worried about right now.
“With the ability we have in the squad it won’t be long before we start winning games.
“We have proven over the years we are capable of going on runs. It’s not just down to the striker. It is up to us as midfielders to help with goals and also set-plays are going to be key this season.”
It was a footballing travesty that Saints failed to beat County last season. All three league games ended in draws but all three were dominated by the Perth men.
“The Ross County games were frustrating last year in terms of the points we dropped,” said Craig. “We performed well against them a few times but didn’t get a win.
“They would have been pleased with the start they made and, hearing their manager’s comments after the Celtic defeat, it wasn’t a 5-0 game. (Billy) Mckay and (Ross) Stewart are boys who can cause you problems. We’ve worked on how we can stop their strengths and how we can hurt them.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to. We’re in a good position in the league and the going on the sort of run we’ve enjoyed in the past will put us in an even better one.
“We want to make sure McDiarmid is a difficult place to come to – we did that against Aberdeen, Hibs and St Mirren.”