Dan Cleary and John Mahon will take their games to the next level this season, according to St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson.
Both Irish defenders had important parts to play in keeping the Perth club in the Premiership after arriving half-way through the 2021/22 campaign – the former more regularly than the latter.
But Davidson believes there’s no substitute for getting a pre-season under your belt.
And the manner in which the two centre-backs have caught the McDiarmid Park boss’s eye in Saints’ Spanish training camp has reinforced that belief.
“I always think it’s hard to move clubs in January and it takes time to get people firing properly,” said Davidson.
It may very well go unnoticed but that ball from John Mahon is everything we’ve been missing this season. Unreal.
The kneeslide from Rooney/May 🥰 pic.twitter.com/zP5dxZ3uFp
— St Johnstone Fans (@StJohnstoneFans) May 24, 2022
“We brought in quite a few permanent signings earlier in the year and I think you’ll see them really kick on for getting a pre-season.
“John Mahon and Dan Cleary, for example, will be even better for being settled here and getting that summer of work with us – they will be fitter and stronger.
“John has impressed us a lot and people saw what he could do when he played towards the end of the season.
“Dan did really well coming in cold in January but I always think it takes a pre-season with a club to properly get going.
“So I’m expecting to see the pair of them improve a lot this season.”
Theo Bair in the same boat
Saints posted a clip on social media of Theo Bair scoring in a training game.
The Canadian international will get an opportunity to shine in friendlies and League Cup group matches when the players return to Scotland.
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) June 29, 2022
“Theo is the same,” Davidson added. “He’s had six months to get used to the way we work here and with a good pre-season he’ll kick on too.
“We signed players at good ages in January – a few at 22 and 23-years-old – as well as a couple in their mid-20s.
“So when you add younger ones like Max Kucheriavyi, Charlie Gilmour and Cammy Ballantyne to that, who we are hoping will all make their mark this season, we have a very good mix.
“I thought it was important to bring a bit of experience into the squad.
“I always look at the size of squad and the spread of ages, you need a good balance and I think we’re getting that.”
‘Top class’ facilities
Davidson is getting everything out of the Murcia trip that he hoped he would.
“The facilities over here are excellent,” he said. “The lads are working hard and it’s been great so far.
“The pitches are top class and the weather has been great.
“It’s also good for the new players to blend in and get to know each other better.
“It’s been hard work and the players have thrown themselves into it.
“We come back and play a couple of games but it’s all geared towards being ready for that first game in the cup in a few weeks’ time.”