Tommy Wright rates Zander Clark the most consistent keeper in Scotland’s top flight.
Therefore, the St Johnstone boss will have no hesitation in restoring the 26-year-old to the side to face lowly St Mirren in tomorrow’s re-arranged McDiarmid Park clash.
A hamstring strain ruled Clark out of the last four games, with former Rangers and Dundee United stopper Cammy Bell deputising against Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibs and Livingston.
The training ground injury last month wrecked any hope Clark had of being drafted into the Scotland squad for the Euro qualifiers with Kazakhstan and San Marino.
“Zander trained all last week and will go back in against St Mirren,” confirmed Wright, who revealed the Perth club are keen to secure Clark on a longer-term deal.
“It would have been a wee bit of a risk playing him in the postponed match but we have no worries now.
“He played in a practice match and had no adverse reaction.
“Zander has been training well and will be looking forward to getting back in.
“Cammy has done well but Zander is my number one and he comes straight back in.
“In my opinion he has been the most consistent goalkeeper in the league this season.
“He has had an impressive number of clean sheets and has pulled off great saves at times in games when it has mattered.
“Zander has become a huge player for us and it’s good to get him back for a tough run of fixtures.
“He has always been a big presence in terms of his size.
“But when someone misses out with the level of understanding he has forged with a settled back four sometimes it can affect others.”
The odds on Saints making the top six have tilted against the Perth side, with just one point claimed from their last 24.
Wright’s men have slipped to ninth in the table, with Hibs now in the driving seat with a seven-point advantage.
But Wright insists his players have to keep believing, with three points a must against a Buddies side looking to edge past Dundee and engineer an escape from the basement.
“We would have liked the game on before the international break,” said Wright, recalling how a waterlogged pitch put paid to the previous fixture.
“It has been a frustrating time in terms of having two or three unscheduled breaks which haven’t helped us.
“Now we have four games in a short space of time and we have no excuses. We have to get back to winning ways.
“St Mirren will be tough to beat because they have been better since the window and have a settled system in place.
“Other than the Rangers game they have looked more solid and have managed to nick points late in games.
“You can see they are giving everything for their manager in terms of trying to get themselves out of the position they are in.
“But for us I have got to see top six as still being a realistic target because there are still 12 points left to play for before the split.
“I have got to believe we can win these four games.
“I know people will say with the run we are on I shouldn’t have that level of confidence in the team.
“But I believe in the players. They have to show more belief in themselves and cut out the silly mistakes.
“We have lost a lot games by the odd goal and we have contributed to those defeats by individual errors. We have to cut those out.
“We also have to be more creative in the final third. We haven’t been scoring enough goals from the possession we have had.”
Wright will have midfielder David Wotherspoon in his squad, with a recent addition to the family ruling him out of Canada’s 4-1 Nations League weekend win over French Guiana in Vancouver.