St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright does not like the season being so stop-start, even though he appreciates there is no alternative.
Wright has been delighted to see his players involved in international competition during this latest break, with Madis Vihmann away with Estonia, Matty Kennedy in the Czech Republic with the Northern Ireland senior side and Ali McCann in Romania with the province’s under-21s.
Nevertheless, it does mean a staggered return to training for the Perth club ahead of Saturday’s Premiership clash with St Mirren in Paisley.
The league campaign has been disrupted at regular intervals since the big kick-off and there is yet another halt for international football as soon as next month.
Wright said: “Madis travelled back on Monday, while Matty and Ali will be back in with us on Wednesday.
“Hopefully, they haven’t taken any knocks and will all be available for Saturday.
“I have looked at some of the travel arrangements. I know it is difficult with flights but Ali was travelling from 9am and not arriving at Bucharest airport until midnight.
“Coming back, some of them have two flights and a train journey.
“I am sure the associations are doing all they can and players are going all over rather than coming to one central point.
“That is not ideal but as a football club we are delighted they are representing their countries.
“We do have international breaks every month just now.
“We play St Mirren, Hamilton and then Hearts in midweek. The Rangers game after that has been postponed because they have the League Cup semi-final.
“So there’s another free weekend before we play Hibs and then it’s another international break.
“I have been at the meetings for the fixtures list and there is no other way to fit them all in but it means the season is very much stop-start.”
Wright is delighted with the progress shown by McCann, with the 19-year-old midfielder well ahead of schedule.
The Saints gaffer added: “If I had got 20 appearances out of him this whole season I would have been happy but Ali is into double digits starts already.
“He has done extremely well.
“Ross County was his best game. He started well and imposed himself on it.
“Ali is comfortable on the ball, gets around the park, is tenacious and quite composed.
“He has really good attributes and he is starting games on merit.
“There will be times I pull him out of the team simply because he is 19.
“I don’t expect him to play 40 games this season.
“But Ali has taken advantage of circumstances to stake his claim, with Liam Craig picking up a groin injury which keeps him out for another week or so.
“Another youngster, Wallace Duffy, has a chance now with Liam Gordon being injured.
“There may have been a perception that we don’t play young players but that’s proven to be wrong.”