Callum Davidson’s St Johnstone central defence is one of the best-performing units in the country by any yardstick.
It was the cornerstone of the Perth club’s historic Betfred Cup success and their surge up the league table.
But Davidson fears his highly-rated trio of Jason Kerr, Liam Gordon and Jamie McCart will be broken up in the summer.
Asked whether he expects to lose at least one young star from his McDiarmid Park squad, he answered: “I’d be surprised if I didn’t.
“That is how well they have played for me.
“You look at my back three. I’ve been pleased with them and they have been brilliant together.
“It is one of the main reasons we’ve had success, especially in the semi-final and final of the League Cup. They were tremendous.
“To lose one or two of them would be a big blow.
“Any offer would need to be right for the club. It would be a big plus for us that, if we do get money in, it will definitely help the club survive.”
The business of working on new contracts is continuing behind the scenes, Davidson confirmed.
“Things are progressing,” he reported. “With Covid issues it takes a little bit of time.
“Most clubs have suffered from losses. We need to make sure we balance the books and work hard to make sure St Johnstone are still a football club in a couple of years’ time.
“It has been tough, it will be tough, but hopefully we can keep working hard and get two or three more players signed up.”
He is quick in mind and over the first 10 yards.
One player who has already signed an extension is David Wotherspoon and Davidson expects the 31-year-old to be a key member of the Saints team for quite some time yet having produced arguably the best season of his career in 2020/21.
The former Hibs man is now back in the country after playing for Canada and scoring in an 11-0 thrashing of the Cayman Islands earlier in the week.
“It was great for David getting his first goal,” said Davidson.
“Having worked with him before I knew he was one of those players who understands instructions really well.
“He is a great guy to have out on the pitch. He is technically very good and he has been enjoying the role he has been playing higher up the park.
“You can see from his performance levels he has been one of our best players this season.
“He is quick in mind and over the first 10 yards. David has that in abundance.
“And he has that chop which people know all about but he still gets results from it.
“He will continue to play at a high level for a few years to come.
“He’s a great role model for the younger players here.
“We have a few older ones who are invaluable to the younger ones. If they look and listen they will definitely learn.”
For Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie at Dens Park, Davidson will be telling his players to expect Premiership standard opposition in Dundee.
“This is a great game for us,” he said.
“Some of Dundee’s performances have been really good this season. It’s probably just a bit of consistency that they have been lacking.
“When you look at the players they have brought in, it is probably a Premiership squad.
“They are strong, in the team and on the bench.
“I watched Dundee against Dunfermline at the weekend and they showed great fighting spirit to come back from 2-0 down after six minutes to win. Like us, their confidence will be high.
“We need to stamp our authority on the game and put them under as much pressure as we can.
We need to make sure we start full of energy and positivity.
Davidson added: “I think the danger for us is that they have players wanting to make their mark.
“You have guys like Jason Cummings, Lee Ashcroft, Charlie Adam and Paul McMullan. They are Premiership players.
“The concern for us is that if they up their game against us because they are playing a Premiership team it is going to be a very difficult tie.
“We need to make sure we start full of energy and positivity and put them under pressure so they crack first.”
Meanwhile, Davidson gave an update on the progress of January recruit Charlie Gilmour, whose only first team action so far has been a couple of minutes off the bench when Saints were 3-0 up at Motherwell.
“Charlie is getting fitter and stronger,” he said.
“Like James Brown, it gets to a point where he needs to play. Hopefully we can get them game-time between now and the end of the season.”
It turned out his false teeth had fallen out and landed on the track!
Davidson has been involved in St Johnstone v Dundee matches as player and coach. It’s a fixture that is top of the list of must-wins for the club’s supporters.
The game that sticks out in his mind might not come as a surprise – but the reason behind it will.
“My favourite derby memory is from McDiarmid Park when we won 7-2 on New Year’s Day (in 1997),” said Davidson.
“I was on the bench when we were five or six up and Danny Griffin gave away a penalty.
“John Blackley was raging in the dug-out. He was shouting and screaming at Danny. Then he started to mumble.
“We were wondering what was going on.
“It turned out his false teeth had fallen out and landed on the track!”