Jason Kerr is confident that he and Liam Gordon will repay their manager’s faith in them – and forge a successful central defensive partnership for St Johnstone.
Tommy Wright started his planning for next season at the weekend by dropping his experienced, soon-to-depart club captain Joe Shaughnessy, and picking a 22-year-old and 23-year-old as his centre-backs in Paisley.
The Perth boss has made it clear he believes in the pair of them, and according to Scotland under-21 international Kerr, the game-time they can now expect in the post-split fixtures will prove invaluable when the 2019/20 campaign gets underway.
“Myself and Gordy have both been at the club for a few years now,” he said. “We’ve played for the first team as a partnership and for the reserves. We know what are games are all about.
“I think we make a good partnership.
“He’s a bit older than me and he’s louder on the pitch so I’d probably say he’s the boss out of the two of us! You never stop hearing from him during a game.
“The gaffer is looking forward to next season so these are important games to get the relationship between myself, Gordy and Zander to gel.
“We’re young centre-backs, which isn’t that common in the Premiership.
“The manager has said that he thinks we’re the future of the club, which is great to hear.”
Kerr feared that his one-game suspension after being sent-off at Kilmarnock may have cost him his starting place for a while.
“You obviously worry about getting back in the team,” he admitted. “The lads did well and beat Dundee and got a clean-sheet. Joe and Gordy were brilliant that day.
“I was happy that the gaffer had the confidence in me to put me back in.”
The point against St Mirren makes it one win and a draw since the league was divided into two. Kerr made no attempt to downplay the importance of the final three results.
He explained: “If we finish the season well, there will be much more confidence going into next season.
“There have been a lot of ups this season – especially the long run without conceding a goal. And there have been some downs – like the defeats to the Old Firm.
“Now we want to finish off on another up, by getting nine points.”
Had it not been for a 90th minute equaliser by Danny Mullen – a spectacular volley – Saints would still have been three points ahead of Motherwell rather than one.
Kerr accepted his share of the responsibility for the strike that cancelled out Chris Kane’s 79th minute opener.
“There were a few mistakes leading up to the goal,” he reflected. “I should have played a pass to Swanny and not kicked it out for the throw-in.
“Then when the ball is hit into the box I haven’t heard a shout from the goalie and I’ve headed it. From there the boy has struck it so sweetly, so credit to him.
“We’re obviously disappointed because when you’re 1-0 up in the 90th minute you should be seeing the game out.
“We want to get seventh. To be the best of the rest is still in our hands.
“A point here isn’t the worst result.”
Even the best of goals can be traced back to mistakes and that was Wright’s take on the late equaliser.
“I thought we did enough to win it and then it is a wonder strike but from our point of view it should be dealt with,” he said.
“It is a 70-yard lump into the box and we should cope with it better.
“In the conditions it maybe could go through to Zander but we make a mistake and they produce a bit of magic to get a point.
“We were well in control of the game looking to get the three points.
“I think we deserved to win the game and we should have.”
Had Saints held on it would have been four out of four against St Mirren, the same as it was against Dundee. Buddies boss Oran Kearney was almost resigned to that fate.
“If I’m being honest, despite being the optimist I am, I just wasn’t sure the goal was coming,” he said.
“Against St Johnstone we’ve had a few where you feel you can take something from the game and then they’ve hit us late.
“We just huffed and puffed a bit today but credit to Danny for the goal.
“I said to the players after the game that earlier in the season we lose that game.
“We wouldn’t have kept going. It’s credit to them because they did keep going and never quit. The magnitude of the point could be huge come the end of the season.”