Alan Mannus has “earned the right” to still be the St Johnstone number one, according to Perth boss Tommy Wright.
Back-up goalkeeper Zander Clark put in two virtually faultless performances against Dundee United and Aberdeen after getting his first team chance on the back of Mannus’s sending off in the Tayside derby.
The Northern Irishman has admitted that he thought he wouldn’t go straight back into the team when his suspension was completed.
But Wright gave Mannus the nod for the game against Partick Thistle.
And the Saints manager has explained his reasoning to the young deputy.
“I asked Zander to put himself in Alan’s position when I told him who was starting against Partick Thistle,” he said.
“Alan has been number one here for three seasons and has been consistently among the top three keepers in the league.
“I know Alan didn’t expect to come straight back into the side but I felt his record here earned him the right.
“But he knows he has to perform at a high level because Zander is breathing down his neck.”
Mannus has been a Northern Ireland squad keeper for around a decade, and the carrot of Euro 2016 is now dangling in front of him after their historic qualification success.
As desperate as the former Linfield man is to be selected by Michael O’Neill for the trip to France, Wright does not believe it will have a direct effect on his St Johnstone performances over the coming months.
He said: “Alan is determined to get in the squad for the Euros next summer but I don’t really think he needs an extra motivational spur.
“He wants to play every week and he realises he has genuine competition for his place.
“The bonus is that if he is playing well and regularly then he has the European Championships to look forward to at the end of the season.”
* Wright has given the green light to longer term loans for two of his promising teenagers.
Defender Jason Kerr will spend the rest of the season with East Fife and keeper Jordan Millar is extending his stay at Montrose until the summer.
Saints have given them both permission to play in the Scottish Cup.