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Zak Rudden analysis: Did St Johnstone target show he is what Perth club need in Partick Thistle v Kilmarnock clash?

Will St Johnstone go back in for Zak Rudden?
Will St Johnstone go back in for Zak Rudden?

St Johnstone tabled an offer for Partick Thistle striker Zak Rudden early in the transfer window.

It was knocked back and Jags boss Ian McCall has since stuck to his stance of the Maryhill club being reluctant to do business.

McCall has also stressed Saints are not the sole January suitors.

Carlisle have been linked with Rudden, as have Motherwell, who can afford to play the long-game and wait until the summer to bring him on board.

Callum Davidson watched the Scotland under-21 international in action against Hamilton last Saturday and Fir Park manager Graham Alexander checked him out when Thistle hosted Kilmarnock six days later.

Courier Sport assesses the former Rangers and Falkirk forward’s performance on Friday night to see if he would fit the bill at McDiarmid Park.


Key attributes

The variety of Rudden’s game is one of the attractions.

In the first half in particular we saw a bit of everything.

Outside of the penalty box, his main strengths are his perpetual motion, a willingness to operate on the shoulder of a centre-half and an ability to time his run.

Rudden favours the left third of the pitch rather than the right when he drifts away from the centre.

One such strong dash beyond Ash Taylor down that flank culminated in a cut-back into the danger area.

A Premiership striker can’t be one-dimensional, though.

Rudden’s capacity to bring others into the game with his back to goal will also need to be of a high standard if he is to thrive up a division.

Dropping short to drag his marker into midfield then playing a one-two and spinning off him, before earning his side a corner after the half-hour mark, suggested it is.

This wasn’t a game of many penalty box chances for Rudden but the fact he took on a first-time shot from a Richard Foster cross – the type of which Saints strikers have a habit of wanting too many touches with – was encouraging.



Rudden has played the last two games in the knowledge he has become a wanted man.

It says a lot about his mentality that he scored in the first of those matches and, in the main, didn’t wilt under the bright spotlight again in this live television fixture.

Zak Rudden in action against Hamilton.
Zak Rudden in action against Hamilton.

He was more impressive in the first half than the second, mind you, and it didn’t come as a great shock to see him substituted with 13 minutes left.

Needlessly and clumsily shoulder-charging the Kilmarnock goalkeeper – and running the risk of a red card – just before that change was a sign of his frustration.



Rudden still has rough edges, which is to be expected for a 21-year-old player who has been a League One and Championship footballer in Scotland thus far.

The fact he was able to give an experienced centre-back like Taylor a tough first 45 minutes was a sign he isn’t miles away from being Premiership-ready.

It would probably only be in short spells initially, though.

Of his 16 league starts for Thistle, he has only stayed on the pitch for the full 90 in two of those.

And 60-something or 70-something withdrawals have been more common than last 10 minute ones.

Stylistically, you could envisage Rudden complementing Nadir Ciftci – picking up flick-ons and dragging centre-halves out wide to create space for others.

But Davidson has other signing targets up front and may be able to acquire one who would represent less of a gamble than Rudden for circumstances that demand immediate impact.

It could be a case of right player, wrong time.

St Johnstone midfielder Craig Bryson needs ankle operation and will be out for up to 8 weeks

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