Zander Clark is finally poised to sign a new deal at St Johnstone – and has been backed to enhance his reputation as one of Scotland’s top keepers.
The 27-year old has spent the summer weighing up his options, but there has now been a significant breakthrough in contract talks that should see Clark extend his stay with the Perth club beyond an eighth season.
Boss Tommy Wright is thrilled that such a key man has decided that the best option for him is to stay at Saints where he can cement his place as one of the Premiership’s most reliable shotstoppers and a player with Scotland potential.
Wright said: “We’ve had a response from Zander’s agent and it now looks really positive.
“I’d expect something to be sorted before the end of this week.
“We made him a good offer and Zander has now come back to us and we’re not a million miles apart.”
Clark was outstanding for Saints last season while racking up 42 top team appearances and pushing himself to the brink of the international set-up.
Alex McLeish blanked his claims for a Scotland squad place, but with Steve Clarke now in the hot seat and already showing his willingness to look at emerging talent from provincial clubs, the new campaign will represent a fresh chance for Clark to make the breakthrough.
Wright is sure his keeper can only get better by committing his future to Saints.
He added: “Zander’s done extremely well and improved steadily as a keeper and I’ve no doubt he can keep developing.
“If he keeps improving he can become one of the best goalkeepers in Scotland.”
Saints face Glentoran tonight in Belfast as they kick off their pre-season schedule.
Wright will give four trialists the chance to shine against Glens and then against Linfield on Saturday.
For now, Wright is keeping the identity of the keeper, two defenders and a striker under wraps, but hopes they can make an impact.
He added: “The outfield players will all get a chance to play and we’ll take it from there.
“These games are all just part of the build-up to the season, but I have to say I’ve been thrilled with the condition of the players.
“I can only describe the fitness levels as frightening which is great for any manager coming into pre-season.
“In my days as a player I sometimes had 10 weeks off and I have to say the boys nowadays look after themselves so much better than we did!”
Danny Swanson has recovered from an ankle injury to train fully this week and new signings Wallace Duffy and Elliott Parish are in line for debuts after signing from Celtic and Dundee respectively.