Callum Davidson has confessed to “over-working” his St Johnstone players in the penultimate week of pre-season.
And sharpening their attacking edge will now be the priority in the build-up to the Premiership opener against Ross County.
Saints’ last match before the real football begins was a 0-0 draw with Fleetwood Town.
There was a lack of clear-cut chances for Davidson’s men – but with good reason.
“The first two games were really good but, on reflection, for the last two I probably trained them too hard between them,” the Perth boss explained. “It was a hard week with the training we put in.
“I’m really pleased with the defensive side of things and we can improve going forward. That’s probably down to myself over-working them.
“This week we’ll be sharpening things up a bit.”
Finnish striker Eetu Vertainen has been lined up as an attacking addition but even if the deal to sign him is finalised in the next couple of days, the under-21 international won’t be available for Dingwall.
When the ins and outs are confirmed by the close of the transfer window, Davidson will happily negotiate the 2021/22 campaign with a lean and hungry group again.
“I’m happy with the squad I’ve got,” he said. “We’ll have roughly the same numbers and add a couple of the younger lads.
“We need to try and keep injuries to a minimum because it’s a busy spell we’ve got coming up. That was an important part of our success last season.
“It was obviously a great season but there are still things we can improve on.
“We’ll use the fact that the league is going to be harder as a motivation. Hearts and Dundee have come up and are spending money.
“We’ll be looking to maintain our performance level from last year and keep getting points on the back of it.
“On top of that we’ll see if we can do something in Europe, whether it’s in the Europa League or the Conference League.”
Pace to burn
With Callum Booth an injury doubt, on-loan Manchester United youngster Reece Devine could make a Premiership debut at the weekend.
“Reece was a wee bit behind when he came in but he’s getting fitter and stronger,” said Davidson.
“You can see what he’s got in his locker. He’s going to put pressure on Callum for a starting place.
“That’s what I want. I don’t want anybody to be comfortable.
“He’s got pace to burn and the fitter he gets, the more he’ll be able to show it.
“Callum was probably our best player for the last couple of months of the season so he’ll be a hard man to move out of the team.
“But Reece is a young man with determination to succeed.
“If players lose their place I don’t want them to sulk and go: ‘Well that’s me finished with St Johnstone, I’m going to move somewhere else’.
“I like players with fight who want to prove themselves.”