Glenn Middleton believes he will be a better player this season than he was last.
And the same goes for the St Johnstone team as a whole.
Resting on laurels won’t be an issue individually or collectively as Middleton and Saints seek to secure their first league win of the campaign at Pittodrie – and then a return to Hampden Park in the League Cup a few days later.
— Ewan Smith (@ewansmithpr) August 15, 2021
“I think things this season, from what I can see in training, have gone up another level,” said the on-loan Rangers forward.
“That comes from the manager and the boys because after what we achieved, everyone wants to make sure it doesn’t look like a one-season thing.
“We want to kick on.
“Do I think we can be a better team this year? Definitely.
“The manager always has a game plan and we all have a very good understanding of how each other works and how the team works.
“The standards in training have been lifted and we will hopefully see the benefit of that on the pitch.
“The squad is strong, we have competition and there are players who haven’t been involved. That keeps everyone on their toes.”
Debut against the Dons
Starting with a late run-out as a substitute against the Dons in January, Middleton’s first loan with Saints was a case of steady improvement.
There has been no bedding in period second time around, though.
“It seems like a while ago I made my debut against Aberdeen but I am in a much better place,” said the Scotland under-21 international.
“I am performing much better than when I first arrived. I’ve got a different level of match sharpness and general confidence now.
“Once you have the sharpness under your belt and you are playing most weeks, you always get the benefits from that.
“While sometimes things haven’t been as positive in previous loans (to Bradford and Hibs), I am still grateful for the opportunities.
“I still think I benefitted from it.
“But since I came here, everything has flowed nicely and it’s a great team to be involved in.
“Often you just need one thing to go right and then everything follows on from that.
“Coming back to St Johnstone was the best option for me to play football but I know nothing is guaranteed and I have to perform to keep my place.
“I have my own goal targets this season inside my head. I know what I want to achieve.
“I have been working very hard and I have had a really good week in training.”
Pace and more pace
Michael O’Halloran’s acceleration was a key weapon for Saints against Rangers last weekend, with Middleton unable to play against his parent club.
Combining the two speedsters in the McDiarmid Park side has also worked well, most notably against LASK, and will be a strong option for Callum Davidson to consider for the trip north.
A great chance for St. Johnstone to double their lead! 😮
Glenn Middleton just couldn't get the ball under control to get the shot off 😬 pic.twitter.com/35O4Uzje7A
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) August 19, 2021
“I think the option of pace we have up front is massive,” said Middleton.
“Mikey and I are more than capable of starting games and showing our strengths if that’s the way we are playing as a team.
“But there are so many forward type players who have their own strengths.
“Whatever the manager is wanting, he has top players to choose from for every game we go into.
“It is a massive week for the club and it’s something to be excited about and as a group of boys we go into it with a lot of confidence.
“When you look around at who is on the pitch I feel we can rely on one another.
“I know a few of the Aberdeen lads from the under-21s. They have a lot of quality.
“But that is no reason to say we can’t go up there and take three points.”