St Johnstone have five matches to “sort ourselves out for the top six,” manager Tommy Wright declared.
Playing out the post-split fixtures with the top half teams has become a habit for the Perth men in recent seasons, and they will fight to make sure they’ll be doing it again in a few weeks’ time.
Wright said: “I don’t think anyone knows what points tally will be needed to make the top six.
“But we are still in a positive frame of mind, looking up rather than down.
“There has been a level of inconsistency in our performances. We know that and we know we can do better.
“But I’m not going to hammer my players. We are still in a good place and can still have an excellent season.
“We are in the top six. I know teams have games in hand. But we think we can get enough points before the split to keep us in there.
“People have come to assume St Johnstone will be in the top six but in any sport you can never take anything for granted. Maybe that level of expectation from certain quarters adds pressure. We certainly haven’t expected to be make the top six automatically. It doesn’t work like that.
“Myself and the players know we could have done better in recent weeks but the opportunity to make the top six is still there for us.
“We have five games to sort ourselves out for the top six.”
Saints welcome Inverness Caledonian Thistle to McDiarmid Park this evening and have the chance of putting six points between themselves and one of their top six rivals.
“I watched Inverness against Hibs,” Wright said. “They are a good side. They play football but they are strong and physical as well, and they like to hold onto the ball.
“It is going to be a difficult game, we know that, but we want to get back to winning ways.”
Scoring first has been something the Perth side have struggled to do of late and Wright knows they need to put that right.
He said: “We have been losing too many first goals in games. We can’t quite put a finger on why that has been happening. We have been making poor decisions.
“We realise there are areas we need to improve in and I have every confidence in my players to do just that.
“There is a school of thought that possession is key but looking back at the Partick Thistle game we lost despite have the majority of possession.
“It’s what you do with the possession that counts.
“In some of the games when we were on a good run earlier in the season we won with less possession. But we have been leaving ourselves exposed at times and have been caught out on the counter-attack.
“Football has developed into a counter-attacking game and we haven’t dealt with certain situations as well as we should have.
“As a group we are still strong and full of confidence and belief.”
Brian Easton and Chris Millar could come into contention for tomorrow’s game or, if not, the week after against Ross County.
Wright reported: “Easty has been back in full training and Chris Millar will train today. I have a decision to make on both.
“Easty has been out for four and a half weeks now and Midge has had his hamstring problems. They will come into consideration but I will probably not risk them both. We will wait and see how they react.”