St Johnstone’s Zander Clark not getting caught up in Scotland talk

Zander Clark.

Zander Clark has already exceeded his expectations for the season by establishing himself as St Johnstone’s number one.

So if the Saints goalkeeper doesn’t get a Scotland call-up before the end of the campaign, he won’t be too disappointed.

Clark is one of the form keepers in the country just now and last week his Perth team-mate David Wotherspoon suggested he would already have been selected for his country if he played for a higher profile club.

The 24-year-old, though, is keeping a ‘what will be, will be’ mindset.

“If my performances merit it I’m sure they will take me there,” he said.

“But this is a season where it was all about breaking through at St Johnstone so I can’t expect too much at this stage.

“I have to make sure I keep performing well. If performances are good enough to get a decision made on me that would be great but I won’t be disheartened if I’m not called up.

“I’m still relatively young for a goalkeeper and I have time on my hands.”

Clark added: “I am delighted with the way the season has gone for me from a personal point of view. I got into the team early on and that’s 23 consecutive games now. That is something I wasn’t expecting.

“That is a great achievement for me at this point of my career so I just want to rack up as many games as I can.

“I have another 18 months on my contract here so I have plenty of security.

“Most players want to have a crack at playing down south and to challenge yourself. But I am happy enough here and pleased to be playing week in and week out.”

A big tick in the box for Clark was his reaction to a “wee wobble” at the end of 2016.

He said: “I had a wee wobble with a couple of dodgy decisions against Motherwell and Ross County but I am still learning. I feel I’ve done well after the wee setbacks I suffered. I have been happy with my form since coming back from the winter break.

“As a keeper mistakes are always highlighted more. Nine times out of 10 they can result in a goal so fans remember them.

“I made a few mistakes on loan at Queen of the South last year but this season it’s a bigger stage being in the top league and they get picked up on more. But it is all part of the learning curve for me.

“I analyse performances with goalkeeping coach Paul Mathers every week to see if I could have done anything better.

“Obviously the gaffer is a former keeper himself and he and Paul speak regularly. I get the feedback.  But the manager has other players to look after. Maybe a manager who hasn’t been a keeper might nit-pick at certain things whereas he can see if nothing could have been done about a goal.

“It’s a case of trying to perform well personally and as a team to make sure that top six spot is secured.”

Last weekend’s Scottish Cup defeat to Partick Thistle was a low point of the season but Clark is confident that there will be a quick bounce-back in the league against Ross County on Saturday.

“It was disappointing to lose to Thistle because we felt we had a good chance to progress,” he said.

“We knew within ourselves we didn’t start as well as we could have. For 20 minutes we were way off what we should have been. We allowed Thistle something to hang onto. It was similar to us at their place when we won. The first goal is huge and even more so in a cup tie.

“We had chances with Macca, Kano and Blair Alston but they went inches past the post or over the bar. That’s when you start to wonder if things aren’t going to happen for you.

“It was disappointing for the lads who know what it is like winning the cup. But it was just as sore for guys like me who weren’t involved in the final. It is a chance missed.

“But it’s done with now and the league has to be the main focus for us. We have a massive game at Ross County and we have to make sure we prepare properly. We have to secure that top six place.”