David Wotherspoon backed to give St Johnstone added boost on huge Euro night

Callum Davidson is backing returning David Wotherspoon to produce the goods and help fire St Johnstone to European dreamland.

The influential midfielder missed out on last week’s first leg 1-1 draw with LASK in the Austrian city of Klagenfurt.

But the 31-year-old has been back in training and is looking sharp ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off crunch.

Victory at a packed-out McDiarmid Park would secure Saints group stage football.

“David has come back in great condition so it’s good news on that front,” Perth boss Davidson said.

“He has trained the last three days and looked strong. He’s somebody we miss, especially on the left-hand side with Callum Booth. They link up really well.

“It’s great to have him back. He’s another body in the midfield area. He is probably the one player higher up the field that has that composure and can pick a pass.

“Let’s hope he can be a surprise package to them. Whether he starts or is on the bench, he will make an impact on the game. Wherever I use him, I’m expecting a lot from Spoony.”

There is no getting away from how big a game this is for the Saints. In monetary terms, the awaiting prize of group stage football is huge.

“It’s a huge game for the club, the players and everybody about Perth,” added Davidson. “It’s quite a big game for Scottish football as well.

“For the players, it’s the achievement. For me, it’s more about St Johnstone as a football team, qualifying for group stages and playing all these European games. We aren’t a big club by any means.

“We are one of the provincial clubs and for us to get to the group stage would be huge. It would be a sense of self-achievement in the players, myself and the coaches.

“For the club, it’s different. It’s a huge financial bonus for us, especially in difficult times. Overall, I’d say it is one of the biggest games in the club’s history.

“COVID has taken a big hit on all football teams financially. It will help stabilise the club again and put us on a much stronger platform to get good players in, supporters through the door, get the infrastructure right.

“That’s the big thing. If we do qualify we realise we will need two or three more players in the squad. We are working behind the scenes just in case we qualify. That’s a conversation to have after the game.”

Davidson is hopeful central defender Liam Gordon will be passed fit. He was yesterday 50/50 with a knee tendon issue. Craig Bryson remains out.

LASK manager Dominik Thalhammer had, after last week’s draw at the Wörthersee Stadion, labelled Saints as “disgusting” to play against.

Davidson said: “I was delighted to be fair. I take it as a compliment.

“We work really hard to stop the opposition team playing and pride ourselves in limiting them to very few chances.

“We did that over there. I thought we had the better opportunities. On the counter attack we opened them up.

“So I’m pleased with his comments. I thought they were a good team. If that’s what he thinks then I’ll just take it as a compliment.

“If it’s mind games then it doesn’t bother me. It’s more about how my boys play. If they play well I’m happy and if not I’m annoyed. So let’s see if we can do a job on Thursday night.

“They are the favourites to go through so the pressure is on them to beat us.”

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