St Johnstone can’t afford to take their foot off the gas if they are going to keep pace with Aberdeen and Hearts, according to manager Tommy Wright.
The Perth boss is delighted with Saints’ points tally as they approach the midway stage of the season.
But he knows that impressive consistency will need to maintained in the second half of the campaign.
“We have been excellent,” he said. “We are in a really good position, fourth in the league, with a semi-final to look forward to in January.
“We have to produce more of the same.
“We do tend to finish the second half of the season stronger so hopefully that will be the case again.
“But our first task is to get the wins needed to ensure we are guaranteed top six. Then we can kick on from there.”
Wright added: “I have got to be happy with the number of points we have got and the number of goals we have scored although obviously we want more clean sheets.
“I am delighted with the squad and their response to going out of Europe. Two defeats in 13 games is a great run of form.
“And it is going to take something similar if we are going to put pressure on Aberdeen and Hearts.”
Wright views their Boxing Day opponents Partick Thistle as top six rivals.
“Alan (Archibald) has done a really good job and after their slow start he didn’t panic,” the Northern Irishman said.
“They had a great win against us with two wonder goals.
“They have kicked on and shown consistency. They have put a great run together and will be looking up rather than down and thinking top six is something they can aim for. “Given the run they are on at the minute that could be within their grasp.
“Overall I think Alan has done a tremendous job over the last few seasons.”
Only Simon Lappin is likely to be unavailable. David Wotherspoon’s one-game suspension is the Motherwell match next midweek, while Graham Cummins and Chris Millar should both be in the squad for Maryhill.
Wright said: “Chrissie Millar has trained and we will assess Graham. Simon should be available for the first week in January.
“Graham is back training every day now and we have only the one injury at the moment. If he is fit to play I will have a decision to make.
“It is good to be in such good shape going into three games in a week.”