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St Johnstone: Callum Davidson reveals loan plan for next generation of Saints stars

Saints' Betfred Cup winning team was peppered with home grown and hometown talent.
Saints' Betfred Cup winning team was peppered with home grown and hometown talent.

The next generation of St Johnstone youngsters don’t have to look far for role models.

Home grown stars like skipper Jason Kerr and midfielder Ali McCann have bagged Betfred Cup medals.

And manager Callum Davidson, who has flagged-up the key role played by academy coach Alastair Stevenson and previous boss Tommy Wright in nurturing current first team stars, believes Perth kids can follow the same route to the first team.

The Betfred Cup-winning line-up also included Chris Kane, Stevie May and Zander Clark, while Stevenson was influential in luring local lads David Wotherspoon and Liam Gordon to their hometown club after spells with Hibs and Hearts.

“What the club has done with the academy is a tremendous achievement and so many people deserve credit for it,” said Davidson.

“Alastair brought them in and then there has always been a pathway for players after that.

Perth star Liam Gordon came to St Johnstone after a spell with Hearts.

“Tommy did it with young players, sending them out on loan and it’s something we will continue doing.

“We want them out playing because that’s how they learn and it’s how we learn about them as well.”

Loan spells in the lower leagues prepared many of the current Perth players for top-flight football.

And youngsters like Cammy Ballantyne, John Robertson, Alex Ferguson and Sam Denham could follow the same pathway.

“I always remember speaking to Gary Naysmith about Jason (Kerr) and he said he wasn’t sure about Jason going to East Fife because he wasn’t sure he would play,” Davidson recalled.

“I told him t0 give it six weeks and he’d be in his team no bother – and look what happened.

Saints skipper Jason Kerr (right) has played a key role this season.

“He went there, started on the bench and he did make mistakes. But he learned from them and became a better player for it.

“Jason played over 100 games before coming back here to the first team and it was the same for Zander, Stevie, Kano and some of the others.

“They all showed a good attitude on loan.

“The managers trusted them and it gets back to the manager here that they can be trusted.

“That’s how we work it and what we want to see.

“We have a lot of other good young players here below the first-team.

“It has been hard for them this season because of Covid-19 and not getting games.

“So we will look to send a few of them out on loan when League One and League Two start up again.

“What we tell them is go out, give it a real go and if it doesn’t go your way don’t take the huff – just get better and try harder.

Callum Davidson.

“Football doesn’t come to you, you have to go out and grab your chances – and that’s what young players need to learn.

“Your attitude needs to be spot on every time you train and play.

“Having six or seven players here who did that, went on loan and have become regulars here gives the other ones hope.

“We can point to them and say: ‘Look, they’ve done it and they have a cup medal now,’ – what more inspiration could the young lads get?

“The young boys’ attitude so far has been spot on.

“I have seen improvement in them from training with us.

“It’s now about taking that next step, going out on loan and showing that when they come back we can trust them to make the jump up.”

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