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Callum Booth insists way St Johnstone withstood cup final frying pan proves they can handle relegation battle fire

Callum Booth
Callum Booth believes St Johnstone can handle the pressure of their relegation battle. Supplied by SNS

Callum Booth knows pressure as a St Johnstone player.

He withstood it last season at Hampden when Perth stakes were as high as they’d ever been – and he did it twice.

Now the heat is on again.

But from the cup final frying pan, Saints and Booth have fallen into the relegation fire.

The McDiarmid Park wing back admits the sensation is completely different.

But after helping his team-mates halt their club record-equalling 10-game losing streak with a draw against Dundee, he is determined to ensure it’s a result that sparks Saints’ fight back.

He said: “The pressure is the complete opposite to what we were used to last season, challenging for cups, going to Hampden and winning a double – then playing European ties.

Callum Booth with St Johnstone’s Scottish Cup

“All of a sudden – and very quickly – it’s totally flipped and we are in a really difficult situation.

“It’s a different pressure. But then there’s always pressure when you play football.

“Once you cross the white line you just focus on your performance and try not to think about the noise that’s around with the run we are on.

“Hopefully this (the draw with Dundee) is the first step on us building our way back up and away from the bottom.

“It was probably a terrible watch. But to stop the awful run we’d been on was something. We need to take any positives we can.

“It certainly wasn’t a classic. But we need to move on and build on that.

“There’s no point digging out a point like that then following up with disappointing results.

Callum Booth (second from right) with Chris Kane and Ali McCann as St Johnstone prepared to fly to Turkey to face Galatasaray in Europe
Callum Booth (second from right) with Chris Kane and Ali McCann as St Johnstone prepared to fly to Turkey to face Galatasaray in Europe

“We have a lot of games coming up so hopefully we can build on the clean sheet.”

Losing Nadir Ciftci to injury early on against Dundee was a turn of events Saints didn’t need.

He is likely to miss out of several weeks of football, joining a number of key, first-pick players on the side lines.

Booth accepts there’s no point playing his loss down – but he is hopeful Ciftci will be back sooner rather than later.

“We’re not having much luck,” he admitted.

“With Shaun Rooney, Craig Bryson, David Wotherspoon – all important players for us – being out and now big Nadir.

“He has come in and he’s been brilliant.

“The couple of games he’s played he has shown flashes of his quality and in training you can see if we get him up to speed he will be a huge player for us.

Nadir Ciftci receives treatment during St Johnstone's draw with Dundee.
Nadir Ciftci receives treatment during St Johnstone’s draw with Dundee. The striker faces weeks on the sidelines. Supplied by SNS

“The last time I diagnosed an injury I got it wrong with Wotherspoon when I thought he was ok, so I’ll not bother diagnosing this one.

“But if his hamstring has gone early in the game when he’s chasing a ball then then it’s never a good sign.

“The boys have really took to him and he’s a very good player. Hopefully we get him back as soon as possible.”

Social media was awash with videos and discussion of the reception given to Saints’ players after the Scottish Cup loss at Kelty Hearts.

The Perth side had to run a gauntlet of angry fans as they left the pitch in Fife.

Fans ‘absolutely brilliant’

But they were given enthusiastic backing against Dundee – and Booth wasn’t shocked.

“Emotions were running high after a really, really bad result at Kelty,” he said.

“The set-up wasn’t the best set-up there.

“Fans are going to be emotional right after full-time but what went unnoticed was a lot of fans helping us and still supporting us, giving us good messages.

“Against Dundee they were absolutely brilliant again. It’s just a shame we couldn’t give them a better performance and get that goal we all really wanted.

“But there’s definitely no complaints about the fans. Saturday wasn’t nice to see but it was just one of those things and they were definitely with us against Dundee.”

Next up for Saints is a trip to Aberdeen on Saturday.

 

Pittodrie is a ground they have already won at this season.

Now Booth wants the Perth side to capitalise on their draw with the Dark Blues by dumping the Dons for a second time.

He said: “It does give you confidence if you’ve already won at a stadium. We did really well in that game.

“This is a chance to go up there and build on Wednesday.

“Aberdeen had a poor result in midweek so there’s a chance to go up there and get something from the game.”

Ciftci fears, fan backing, Cleary rising and transfer priorities: 4 St Johnstone talking points from ‘springboard’ Dundee draw

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