St Johnstone V Hearts at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

17 January 2014 04:01
St Johnstone V Hearts - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Wright wary of hurting Hearts

Tommy Wright acknowledges that complacency could be St Johnstone's biggest danger in their Scottish Premiership clash against relegation-bound Hearts at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.

The administration-hit Gorgie club are rooted at the bottom of the table, 20 points adrift of Ross County and without a win in 10 games.

More financial cuts at the Tynecastle club means assistant Billy Brown did not have his contract renewed and he will be in the technical area with boss Gary Locke for the last time against the Perth club.

Saints boss Wright, though, will make sure his players ignore the tipsters as well as the plight of their opponents to focus on the job in hand.

He said: "We can't influence what goes on at Hearts, all we can do is influence what we can do.

"I think the thing is to make sure the players aren't complacent.

"Everyone expects us to win but I know it is going to be a difficult game.

"I watched their game against Motherwell and they done extremely well and the one thing they are doing is fighting for each other, for the club and their manager.

"They have been through a lot this season but they are a strong unit and they have stuck together.

"So it is going to be a tough game and it will be a struggle because I do think they will be a hard team to beat."

Wright admits Brown will be a loss to Locke but does not expect the Tynecastle boss to be without any help at all for the rest of the season.

The Northern Irishman said: "I don't know what their plans are. I think Gary will admit that he needs someone in beside him and Billy is an experienced coach who has been a great help for Gary.

"I am sure there is other support staff there that Gary can utilise, maybe without the title of assistant manager but it would be extremely difficult if he was running the club himself.

" I am sure there is support staff there, maybe from the under-20s, who might step up."

Wright's side go into the game in fine fettle following a convincing 2-0 home win over St Mirren last week which took the Saints into the top-half of the table.

He said: "It was a really good performance, one the staff and players know we are capable of so it has given us a lift.

"The important thing is it got us the three points, we needed them to keep the pressure on for the top-six."

St Johnstone defender Brian Easton has recovered from a hamstring injury but it is too early for him to considered.

Midfielder Murray Davidson should be be fully fit despite a knock to his knee.

Hearts forwards Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson are doubtful after being hit by illness.

Midfielder Scott Robinson is suspended but skipper Danny Wilson is back in contention after illness and left-back Kevin McHattie is expected to shake off a hamstring problem. Second-choice goalkeeper Mark Ridgers is also fit again following knee surgery.

Jamie Walker drops out after undergoing surgery on a broken foot while fellow midfielder Jason Holt is three to four weeks away from returning from the same injury, leaving manager Gary Locke struggling to fill his bench again.

Locke has expressed major disappointment at the imminent departure of assistant Brown.

And Locke fears the loss of his experienced number two will disrupt the team.

Locke was reluctant to go into detail about the decision but it was clear he was unhappy to lose the man he brought in during the summer, when Brown initially worked for free.

"It's very difficult," Locke said at his pre-match media conference. "Obviously I'm really disappointed that Billy will be leaving, but the club has made a statement and I have just got to get on with it myself until the end of the season.

"It will certainly disrupt things a wee bit but I don't really want to talk about it too much because we have a big game tomorrow and I want to concentrate on that, and that's not the message I have put over to the players.

"Whatever's happened this week we have to put behind us and we need to concentrate on trying to get three points tomorrow."

When asked what impact the decision has had on preparations for the St Johnstone game, Locke said: "Obviously it's not been ideal but we are all professionals and we have got to get ourselves focused for tomorrow. It's going to be a very difficult game against a team that are playing very well."

Source: PA