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Cammy Ballantyne ‘like a sponge’ with perfect midfield role models at St Johnstone

Cammy Ballantyne is 'like a sponge' in St Johnstone training.
Cammy Ballantyne is 'like a sponge' in St Johnstone training.

St Johnstone’s short-term future has a midfield Plan B at the heart of it.

And one of the club’s up-and-coming young players is hoping that continues to be the case for years to come.

Callum Davidson will be calling upon Bryson and Butterfield to inspire a second half of the season Saints surge up the Premiership table.

Ballantyne will continue to play his competitive football with Montrose until the end of the season.

But highly-rated 21-year-old Cammy is absorbing all he can from training alongside the experienced pros in his position at McDiarmid Park.

And the end-game is joining them in the Saints first team.

‘Phenomenal’ standards

“The standards those two (Craig Bryson and Jacob Butterfield) set in training are phenomenal,” said the former Scotland schoolboy international.

“They’re great professionals.

“It’s the same with Liam (Craig) and Murray (Davidson).

“I’m learning so much – just little things like the timing of the runs I make.

“I’m absorbing it like a sponge.

“I don’t really need to ask the likes of Butterfield too many questions. I just need to see what he does, analyse it and take it into my own game.

“I’ve got top players to learn off at Montrose as well and the coaching staff are brilliant.”

Saints recently extended Ballantyne’s contract through to the summer of 2024, giving him plenty of time to make the progression from one of the top performers in League One to a Premiership player.

“I’m enjoying playing every week at Montrose,” he said.

“I spoke to the manager (Davidson) to get his thoughts for the rest of the season and he’s keen for me to keep playing games.

“And I’m delighted to get the new deal. I’ve worked hard and it’s a bit of security.

“Now I’ll be focusing on what I can do to help Montrose and improve myself as a player through to the end of the season.

“I obviously want to play at the highest level possible.

“I get the best of both worlds at the moment for a working week – standards are high here and I’m training at St Johnstone two or three times a week as well.”

Craig was at Links Park to see Ballantyne play an advanced midfield role for the Angus side in the first half of their 1-1 draw with Alloa at the weekend and then drop deeper for the second 45.

“The manager and Liam give me plenty of feedback,” he said.

“I feel comfortable technically and in possession.

“For me the next step is the other side of the game – getting the ball back, shape, things like that.

Eye for a pass

“I like to do both those positions.

“I think I’ve got an eye for a pass if we’re in possession in the final third.

“And I want to add more strings to my bow and dictate things as well.

“I do enjoy both roles but probably where I started is my favourite position. I feel that’s where I offer more to the team.

“The way St Johnstone usually play in midfield the two outside midfielders do a lot of running. You need to be fit to play there.

“Sometimes we play a three at Montrose as well – we did that last week.

“I do try to think ‘what would I be doing in this role if I was a level up’ and think how I would translate it into training at St Johnstone.”

Charlie Gilmour, who would have played against Montrose last weekend had he not been sidelined, has been recalled by Davidson.

Two-year security

Ballantyne is content to be patient for his first team chance at McDiarmid.

“When I first came to Montrose I was raw,” he admitted. “Really raw.

“Looking back, you think you’re the main man and the full package.

“But I feel I’ve progressed a lot since then.

“I’ve become more of a student of the game – analysing what I’ve done in a match and thinking about where I can get better.

“The two-year security I’ve got now can only help me in that regard.

“I’ll be looking at what more I can do. Things like maybe more gym work and smoothing out the rough edges.

“I wouldn’t say I was frustrated (at not getting recalled). Obviously I want to play as high as I can but I don’t get ahead of myself and I don’t want to come across as big-headed and that I think I should be playing.

“If it happens for me in pre-season, I’ll make sure I‘m ready.”

St Johnstone recall Charlie Gilmour after Callum Davidson sees ‘incredible’ progression under Barry Ferguson at Alloa

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