St Johnstone V Hibernian at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

21 March 2014 06:01
St Johnstone V Hibernian - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Wotherspoon says the cup can wait

St Johnstone are focusing all their energies on a top-six finish in the Scottish Premier League before thinking again about cup glory, according to midfielder David Wotherspoon.

The Perth side play Aberdeen in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Ibrox next month, looking to avenge the 4-0 League Cup semi-final defeat by the Dons in January and hoping ultimately to win the first major trophy in the club's history.

However, Wotherspoon, 24, insists clinching a top-half place is at the forefront of the Saints players' minds and they will all but confirm it with victory over his former club Hibernian at McDiarmid Park on Saturday.

The former Scotland Under-21 defender told Press Association Sport: "It is the biggest game of the season and we are working towards getting the three points to secure the top-six place.

"That was the aim at the start of the season, and to do well in the cups.

"Obviously we are doing well so far but we have to keep going.

"We want to get that top-six place sorted and move on to the cup semi-final."

Struggling Hibernian, four points behind St Johnstone and having played a game more, have won once in their last 11 games but Wotherspoon is discounting that poor form.

He said: "We went through a similar spell when we didn't get the results we wanted but I am sure they will pick themselves up.

"It is a massive match and I am sure they will be fired up for it.

"But they will have to be on their A-game because we are confident at home.

"Obviously we didn't do well against Ross County at the weekend but we will put that aside and go on to this one."

Frazer Wright returns to the St Johnstone squad. The former Kilmarnock central defender has recovered from an ankle knock and has trained all week.

Left-backs Tam Scobbie (ankle) and Brian Easton (hamstring) are still out, along with midfielder Murray Davidson who remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Boss Terry Butcher has no fresh injury worries for Hibernian but will carry out his promise to make changes following last week's defeat at Partick Thistle.

Midfielders Scott Robertson (knee) and Owain Tudur Jones (hamstring) remain out of the picture heading into Saturday's game, although the latter is back training again.

Defender James McPake continues on his road back to fitness following back surgery but is nowhere near playing.

Michael Nelson is hoping to ask questions of Hibernian's top-six rivals by bouncing back to form at McDiarmid Park.

The Perth club are four points ahead of seventh-placed Hibs with a game in hand, and a home win would consign the struggling Easter Road side, who have won only one of their last 11 matches, to a bottom-half finish.

However, Hibees defender Nelson is looking to put pressure on Tommy Wright's men, who lost at home to Ross County last week, by recording their second victory of the season in Perth following their 2-1 win last September.

"Everyone is aware of the importance of the game," he said.

"But if we do put in a performance and get a win then it puts a little bit of pressure on St Johnstone, especially after they lost last week to Ross County.

"The situation would still be very much in their hands. But all we can do is affect this game, so we have to make sure that's what we do and see how they react to it.

"It's good that we have good memories from the last time we were up there. Hopefully, that victory we had will give the boys something positive to take to McDiarmid Park.

"That's what all the lads are focusing on. Trying to be as positive as we can and taking it into the game."

Source: PA