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Daniel Cleary has started training with St Johnstone as former Dundalk defender aims to ‘hit the ground running’ in January

Daniel Cleary signed for St Johnstone this month.
Daniel Cleary signed for St Johnstone this month.

Daniel Cleary has started training with St Johnstone, as manager Callum Davidson seeks to give his new signing from Dundalk the best chance to “hit the ground running” in the new year.

The former Liverpool centre-back will be officially unveiled as a Saints player on a two-and-a-half-year deal when the January transfer window opens.

And there’s even a chance he could feature in the last Premiership game before the mid-season break at Livingston.

“Dan has come over and he’ll train with us this week,” Davidson revealed.

“He’ll go home for a few days then come back to get ready to start playing.

“It’s good to get him here and meeting the lads. We want him to hit the ground running.

“We’ll have to see where he is ahead of the Livingston game but he’ll definitely be ready for the Scottish Cup.”

The new Jason Kerr?

Ex-Saint Graham Cummins compared Cleary, who won five trophies with Dundalk, to Jason Kerr and Davidson believes he’ll be a perfect fit for the right side of his centre-back trio.

The desire Cleary has shown to test himself in a new league was another big box ticked.

“He’s used to playing the way we do and I see him as similar to Jason,” said Davidson. “He plays the same way as Jason did.

“I really like him, he’s very positive and he’ll be a good addition for us.

“It will add competition. It will be a challenge for people to keep their place.

“Dan’s a good age, he’s experienced and he’s hungry to do well.

“He’s played in England and in big games in Ireland, playing in Europe and winning things over there.

“Dan had other options with more money, but he wanted to come back to the UK to challenge himself.

“I really liked that about him because he could have stayed at home to pick up a wage but he’s keen to push himself.”

Character test

January is set to be a busy month for bottom of the league Saints and “character” will be a word that comes up a lot when Davidson considers which targets to pursue.

“We need to get things done early, signing players who won’t just add to the squad but will really improve it,” he said.

“Getting the right type of player in the window will be important, it can give everyone a lift and be a bit of a wake-up call.

“Character is going to be huge in the signings we make.

“You have a list of players and go through it, maybe scoring a few off that you don’t think have the mentality we’re looking for.

“We need players to add quality to the team but they also have to be prepared to scrap and fight because that’s going to be important.

“When you are in a position like we are, you need the right type of character to get out of the situation we’re in.”

St Johnstone talking points: Callum Davidson needs Scott Boyd and Stevie Grieve January help and has big defensive dilemmas for Ross County

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