Stevie May might not have envisaged Michael O’Halloran as a wing-back in waiting when they first played together the best part of a decade ago.
But the St Johnstone striker believes his team-mate’s transition makes perfect sense.
O’Halloran was too hot to handle for Dundee on Saturday, with all three Saints goals coming from his side of the pitch.
This wasn’t a day for the 30-year-old’s defensive capabilities to be tested, such was the dominance Callum Davidson’s men enjoyed, but it was a masterclass in the attacking requirements of the position.
“His sheer pace alone and directness make him hard to play against,” said May.
“We all know when he gets down that line we need to be in the box because more often than not he’ll get a cross over.
“For strikers it’s all about anticipating what he’s going to do because we know how hard he will be to stop for the opposition.
“It must be hard to defend against – I know how hard it is from trying to do it in training.”
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) September 13, 2021
Did May expect to see this positional conversion?
“Not really,” the former Aberdeen and Sheffield Wednesday man admitted.
“When you’re as solid a unit as we are you can afford to have more attacking players in the wing-back area.
“Roons has been brilliant and he’s shown that he can move into the right centre-back position and do really well there as well.
“It gives us more directness and a nice balance to our team.”
There was a long gap between goals number 49 and 50 for May but a far shorter one from 50 to 51.
His exquisite first touch and then low shot just 34 seconds into the second half completed the scoring after Chris Kane’s first half double.
“It’s good to get back on the scoresheet quickly,” said May.
“I’ll always say that the most important thing is that we’re winning but for myself and Kano to score is great. That’s what you want – strikers scoring and wingers getting assists. We’re happy all-round.
“We know ourselves we should have been a bit more clinical and seen the game out a bit better (Ryan Sweeney scored Dundee’s consolation from a corner) and made it more comfortable for ourselves but it’s a good win and a good performance.
“We did enough earlier in the game to give ourselves that breathing space.
“Different players throughout the team were exploiting gaps for our goals and there were good finishes as well.”
He added: “We lost important players but we’ve got depth in the squad. You can see that from who was on the bench and who wasn’t involved.
“The manager has been able to get a few of our promising young players out on loan and I know from my own experience how much that will help them develop.
“This is a good place to be at the moment.”
Win it for Liam
The ‘win it for Liam Craig’ motivation was powerful ahead of the midfielder’s record-breaking 442nd appearance.
“It was talked about in the changing room before the game,” said May.
“He’s been a great servant to the club. People won’t realise how integral he has been. He’s a loud voice on the training ground day in, day out.
“He’s a really good friend and I’m buzzing for him.
“He’s changed his role and he’s playing some of the best football I’ve ever seen from him in that sitting position.
“There’s no reason why he can’t play a lot more games and help bring on other players around him while he’s doing it.”