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St Johnstone defender Dan Cleary: ‘What needed to be said was said and I think everyone is on the same page’

Dan Cleary is up for the fight at St Johnstone.
Dan Cleary is up for the fight at St Johnstone.

Dan Cleary could have been forgiven for wondering what on earth he’d got himself into as he and his new St Johnstone team-mates made their way off the Kelty Hearts pitch with fan fury closing in around them.

But, undaunted, the Irish centre-back is ready to meet the challenge of keeping the Perth club in the Premiership head-on.

Cleary might be one of the most recent players in the door at McDiarmid Park.

That won’t stop him leading from the front, however.

“I never shy away from a challenge,” said the former Dundalk defender.

“The gaffer has shown trust in me and he believed I am what he wanted.

“That is why I took the opportunity.

“It is obviously not ideal the position we are in at the moment. I made the decision before Christmas to sign and I was ready for the challenge no matter where we were in January.”

Dan Cleary in action against Hearts.
Dan Cleary in action against Hearts.

He added: “I think finding your feet is a bit of a myth to be honest with you.

“You are either ready or you’re not. I feel like I am ready and I want to make an impact.

“That is my goal – to come in and help the team and then climb the table.

“I believe we can do it. We have quality players here and I’ve seen that in training and games.

“I believe we can come out of the situation that we are in.

“Everyone can understand the fans’ frustration at the minute. We are in the same boat.

“But we can turn it around and we need the fans behind us.

“Hopefully against Dundee we can get a result and kick on from there.”

Home truths

After telling some home truths to his team post-Kelty defeat, manager Callum Davidson left the dressing room to let the players have their say.

And Cleary believes that served its purpose.

“What needed to be said was said and I think everyone is on the same page,” he explained.

“We are all pulling together.

“I’m not the kind of player that settles for low standards around me.

“If someone isn’t pulling their weight I’ll let them know.

“We don’t have time to have any low standards around here.

“I’ll step up and hopefully drag the lads along with me to raise the standards of the team.

“I don’t like losing. I hate it. I’ll be doing everything I can to keep the club up.

“I think everyone here can turn this around.

“We know the situation we are in and are going for the three points against Dundee.”

Liverpool standards

As far as setting benchmarks is concerned, Cleary got the perfect education as an academy player coming through at Liverpool.

“When you were going in for a training session as a young player, playing friendly games and being in and around the first team you saw how high the standards are there,” he said.

“But even when I went back to Dundalk it was still a bit of a shock to see how high their standards were.

“I loved my time in Ireland. I was back there for four seasons, playing in the Europa League group stages and winning many leagues and cups.

“It was unbelievable but I felt I was ready for a new challenge.

“This is an opportunity which came about and I was ready to go.

“Obviously the results haven’t gone our way so far but I have enjoyed training and meeting the lads.

“They have welcomed me with open arms and I have got to know them quite quickly.

“The Irish and Scottish lads get along quite well, so it hasn’t taken long to settle in.”

By the sound of it, Saints’ other defensive recruit from Ireland, John Mahon, is cut from the same cloth as Cleary.

“John is a very good player,” he said. “I have played against John a few times when I was back home.

“He is strong, he is physical. He loves a battle as well. He doesn’t shy away from a good battle.”

A good battle is exactly what they’ve both now got.

St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson would have been ‘daft’ not to recall Callum Hendry from Kilmarnock

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