St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is confident he has the strength in depth to enjoy a successful festive season – and the return of three of his senior pros will certainly help.
Danny Swanson, Liam Craig and Steven Anderson have all trained this week so will be available for tomorrow night’s match at Kilmarnock.
And, with two more fixtures to come in a week before the January break, squad rotation hasn’t yet entered Wright’s thoughts.
“While Michael Coulson is out for six weeks with his calf strain it is good to have these three back going into three games in eight days,” he said. “The bigger the pool you have to pick from the better.
“If I was thinking of mixing things up it might be for the last of the three fixtures, against Dundee, but only based on our assessment of how people are shaping up.
“It’s no big deal because we often have three games in a week. But as a manager it is good to have the option of freshening things up if someone is carrying a wee niggle or looking tired.”
Wright added: “I haven’t set a points target over the festive season. My next target is just to get to 30 points as quickly as possible. I tend to work in blocks of 10 points.
“There are enough points available to reach the 30 mark with matches against Kilmarnock, Rangers and Dundee but we have to be at our best.
“These are tough games and the first one has to be dealt with before we start thinking about Rangers.
“Kilmarnock are a lot more consistent now, particularly at home in terms of their performance. Lee (Clark) has done a good job.
“He has brought in a lot of loan players and while some haven’t worked out as he’d have hoped that is the same for any manager.
“Lee has had to deal with a few unfortunate injuries. But he has brought stability to the club and to the team.
“They play at a good tempo and want to press and play in the opposition half.
“Lee was a very good footballer but he was also someone who worked hard on the pitch when he didn’t have the ball. That had been drilled into him at Newcastle and you can see that reflected in his team now.
“They work hard for each other. But so do we and we have to make sure we maintain the level of performance of recent weeks, although maybe that isn’t reflected in the points we have taken.”
With 11 goals to his name so far, Souleymane Coulibaly is an obvious threat.
“He can go into that category of player who can look ordinary at times but is capable of producing a bit of magic,” Wright said.
“That is a great sort of player to have in your team.
“We played him very well in Perth earlier in the season. I don’t think he had a chance. But we know he is a danger.
“He can produce goals out of nothing and has done that numerous times this season. He scores different types of goals, close range finishes, dribbling and spectacular efforts from outside the box.
“He is one that has to be watched but McKenzie has had a good season breaking from midfield, Smith is an experienced player and Tyson and the lad Jones have a bit of pace about them. So this won’t be an easy game.
“They are sitting in a decent position in the league so we have to make sure we do our utmost to get three points.”
Steven MacLean won’t feature tomorrow because of Killie’s artificial pitch but Wright isn’t short of options, Graham Cummins among them.
He said: “Cummins is looking stronger and he has done himself no harm coming off the bench. He looks back to the level he was at before his injury.
“Sometimes it can take a player longer than he’d want to get back to where I think he should be.”