PETER PAWLETT is hoping Aberdeen boss Craig Brown will see the “big picture” when deciding whether to allow the winger to remain on loan at St Johnstone.
The Scotland Under-21 star was handed his first start for Saints since the September 15 victory over Celtic against Hearts on Saturday.
Having finally overcome the hamstring problems that have bedevilled him for weeks, Pawlett more than played his part in an entertaining draw which saw the suspension-hit Perth side twice come from behind to take a share of the points.
He admits he would be happy to extend his stay with Saints beyond January until the end of the season and he believes that playing regular football at McDiarmid will ultimately work to Aberdeen’s advantage.
He said: “I’m not too sure what’s going to happen, to be honest.
“Personally, I want to be playing week in, week out. If I return to Aberdeen and I’m back sitting on the bench, then it’s not ideal for me.
“I think I will get opportunities here so that makes the decision easier for myself and I would like to stay here until the end of the season.
“There will probably be discussions this week between the clubs and hopefully something will be sorted out but I really do not know what will happen.
“But as I said, I would like to stay with St Johnstone until the end of the season.
“It looks like Ryan Fraser will not sign a new contract with Aberdeen. Obviously, he plays in my position but I’m not sure if he is going in January or staying until the end of the season.
“Hopefully, Aberdeen will see the bigger picture. If I am playing week in, week out then it will improve me as a player and it might benefit them in the long term.”
Pawlett admits he feels he owes a debt of gratitude to Saints who have explored every avenue in a bid to get to the root cause of his recurring hamstring problem.
He said: “The first two games here against Dundee United and Celtic, I felt really good. I was sharp and playing well but then I felt my hamstring go in training.
“I just thought, ‘Oh, no!’, as I have done it three or four times now.
“St Johnstone have really been good to me. They have sent me for scans on my back, pelvis, two hamstrings just to try to identify where the problem lies and get it sorted. So if I stay here, I kind of owe them for what they’ve done for me.
“I have been with Aberdeen since I was a kid. I am from Hull and I support Hull City but I do want to play for Aberdeen.
“However, your football career is short and you want to play every single week.
“The manager (Craig Brown) may say to me you have played a few games, now go and prove me wrong.
“If I go back to Aberdeen I am not going to accept just sitting on the bench. I will work really hard to get into the team.”
Pawlett was just one of several star performers for St Johnstone on Saturday.
However, it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Perth outfit when they conceded in just the 14th minute with Hearts’ John Sutton left in splendid isolation to head home an Andrew Driver free-kick.
Saints were stung by that setback but fashioned an instant response just a minute later when a Gary Miller cross from the right brushed the head of Marius Zaliukas, and fell invitingly for Rowan Vine who stabbed home from close range.
The Perth side should have taken the lead in the 27th minute when Vine played a superb through ball to Pawlett to leave him one-on-one with Hearts keeper Jamie McDonald but the big stopper won that duel, producing a fine save to deny the winger.
Saints were made to rue that miss in the 38th minute when a long Ryan McGowan throw from the right was headed on by Sutton with Driver stealing in at the back post to slide the ball home.
Hearts could have had the game wrapped up just five minutes into the second half when the dangerous Sutton again won a header and played in Gordon Smith.
The famous expression “And Smith must score” probably went through a few minds at the ground but like his famous namesake playing for Brighton in the FA Cup against Manchester United on 1983, he did anything but and pulled his shot wide.
That near miss seemed to galvanise Saints with Pawlett again being denied by MacDonald and Steven MacLean having a follow-up effort cleared off the line.
The home side continued to press and received their reward with the equaliser in the 60th minute, a goal that was straight out of the top drawer.
Callum Davidson hit a superb long cross-field pass to namesake Murray with the midfielder taking the ball in his stride and stroking a pass into the feet of MacLean who could not miss for a tap in.
Saints again went close 10 minutes later with a double chance for sub Gregory Tade and MacLean but last-ditch Hearts defending kept them out.
Pawlett admitted that he should have done better with his two opportunities but admitted he has still a bit of rust to shake off after being sidelined for so long.
He said: “It had been about nine weeks without playing so it was a great feeling to be back on the pitch. I feel I can enjoy my weekend now.
“I got half an hour at St Mirren last week and another 75 today. I started to feel the calves twitching by the end but overall, I felt OK.
“I had a couple of chances to score and I should have done better on both occasions.
“The second time, I should have squared it to Rowan and the first one I probably had a bit more time than I thought. I’m sure the goals will come though as I am still a bit rusty at the moment.”
Pawlett will be part of the Saints squad travelling north for the game against his parent club Aberdeen next week.
He will be reduced to a watching brief but that won’t stop him having a gentle dig or two at his Dons team-mates.
He smiled: “I see Aberdeen lost against Kilmarnock so it is a bit strange going on loan to a side that is above the club you have left.
“So when I go up next week, I will wind them up a bit about that. I won’t be able to play though as that is one thing Craig Brown said when they struck a deal with St Johnstone that I would not play against Aberdeen.
“Imagine scoring against them… The same applies to the cup so I will also miss the Cowdenbeath game.”