St Johnstone are in the middle of contract negotiations with half a team’s worth of their players, Callum Davidson has revealed.
And being able to count on Europa Conference League income in the region of £3 million and six glamour group fixtures certainly won’t hurt their chances of getting deals over the line.
It’s all about the glory for Davidson and his Perth players in the winner-takes-all play-off clash with LASK, that sits at 1-1 going into the return leg.
But the game-changing potential of the monetary rewards needs no underlining.
“Players probably won’t see it financially so that’s an easy one,” said the Saints boss. “It’s about the achievement, qualifying for group stages and playing all these European games.
“We aren’t a big club by any means and it would be huge.
“For the club, it’s different. It would be a real financial bonus, especially in difficult times. Overall, I’d say it is one of the biggest games in the club’s history.
“It would help stabilise the club again and put us on a much stronger platform to get good players in, supporters through the door, get the infrastructure right.
“If we do qualify we realise we will need two or three more players in the squad. We are working behind the scenes just in case we qualify tomorrow night.
“That’s a conversation to have after the game.”
Expanding on the subject of ins and out before the transfer deadline, Davidson added: “We are pretty much in agreement with what we are doing with the players – unless we get some really good offers we won’t consider it.
“If we qualify it will help set some players up and we are busy in negotiations with five or six of them.
“Hopefully that will help as well.”
Zander Clark’s next target
Davidson, who reported that Liam Gordon is 50/50 with a knee injury and Craig Bryson is out, is “absolutely delighted” with Zander Clark’s Scotland call-up.
Now his goalkeeper needs to set his sights even higher.
“Some of the goalies are getting to the later stages of their career so there are chances for young ones to come in and stake a claim for a place in the team,” said Davidson.
“I’ve been in Scotland squads. I know the level Zander plays at and I know he will be able to cope fine. Last season he was a top, consistent goalkeeper who produced in the big games, which is probably the reason he is in the squad.
“The challenge for him is can he keep pushing and make sure he not only stays there, but challenges to play?”
Saints were described as “disgusting” to play against by LASK manager Dominik Thalhammer after the first leg in Klagenfurt and more of the same after the return clash would be music to Davidson’s ears.
“I was delighted to be fair,” he said. “I take it as a compliment. We work really hard to stop the opposition team playing and pride ourselves in limiting them to very few chances.
Chris Kane with a MASSIVE goal for @StJohnstone! 😱
After surviving some early pressure from the hosts, Saints strike first in Austria 🔥
"What a goal! What a start!" 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/A884H4ge1c
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 19, 2021
“We did that over there. I thought we had the better opportunities. On the counter-attack we opened them up.
“So I’m pleased with his comments. If it’s mind games then it doesn’t bother me. It’s more about how my boys play.
“They are the favourites to go through so the pressure is on them to beat us.”
David Wotherspoon didn’t feature in Austria and, with Eetu Vertainen’s work permit saga showing no signs of reaching a conclusion, the returning midfielder could provide Saints’ X-factor.
“It’s great to have him back,” said Davidson. “He is probably the one player higher up the field that has that composure and can pick a pass. He has trained the last three days and looked strong.
“Let’s hope he can be a surprise package to them. Wherever I use him, I’m expecting a lot from Spoony.”