After five years in charge of St Johnstone, Tommy Wright admits he’s more excited than ever going into a new season.
The Perth boss gets the campaign going with a Betfred Cup home clash with East Fife.
And after dramatically reducing the age profile of the McDiarmid squad Wright is eager to see how his players shape up.
Latest recruit Tony Watt is set to start up front with David McMillan, a January transfer window arrival from Dundalk who was injured on his debut and sidelined for most of the campaign.
His only other summer signing, Drey Wright from Colchester United, will also get a start.
“I am excited with the squad we’re putting together, possibly even more so than in previous years,” said Wright.
“Getting Tony Watt excites me, Drey Wright will do well for us, David McMillan is fit and looking good and I think we will see the best of Stefan Scougall this season.
“We also have Jason Kerr, Aaron Comrie, Liam Gordon, Kyle McClean and Ali McCann all coming through and pressing for first-team places, although one of the midfielders will probably go out on loan.
“I think it has gone largely unnoticed that the age and the dynamic of the squad has totally changed.
“We have a really young squad. It’s probably going to be one of the youngest in the league and with that there is a freshness.
“Of the 23 players we have, there are 15 who are under 25 and quite a few of them are under 21.
“I still need a few players to complete the jigsaw but I am very happy with how the squad is looking.”
Wright moved out seven players at the end of last season, including long-time servants Chris Millar, Steven MacLean and Alan Mannus, and has brought in only two fresh faces so far.
He is still hopeful of luring back Manchester United youngster Matty Willock on a second loan spell and a wide left attacker has been given priority status.
Former Nuneaton keeper Dean Lyness, ex-Morton defender Mark Russell and one-time Hearts winger Andrew Driver have all been on trial.
But the Perth boss admitted: “As things stand we are not in a position to make any signings so I’ve had to tell the trialists that.
“There is no doubt we will be bringing more players in but at the moment we won’t be so I can’t keep them hanging on.
“It was only fair to tell them the situation.
“I’ve indicated that things possibly may not be dead but right now we have to wait.
“I am comfortable with it and I am sure we will get signings in.”
Skipper Joe Shaughnessy, strikers Chris Kane and Greg Hurst are ruled out by knocks and left-back Brian Easton is waiting for an appointment with a specialist after a setback following groin surgery last term.
Wright admits scouts assessing Gary Naysmith’s East Fife in recent games didn’t learn much about today’s League One opponents.
But after a 2-2 draw with Aberdeen in the Chris Millar Testimonial match and a 4-0 win earlier this week against Berwick Rangers, Wright is keen to get going in earnest.
“They have been playing a lot of trialists when we have watched them,” he said.
“That happens a lot at this time of the season so we don’t have a clear picture of who will be playing.
“We know as much as we can about them but really we are concentrating on ourselves. It’s about us and our approach.
“It’s funny we are playing them in the cup because we play East Fife in a friendly most pre-seasons.
“I am looking for a progression from the quality we have shown against an Aberdeen side ahead of us in terms of games and Berwick Rangers earlier this week.
“If we do that hopefully our quality will come through. Like all our opponents East Fife are being treated with respect and we know we are in for a difficult game.”