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Callum Davidson confident of St Johnstone improvement but survival the priority
Saints secured safety last season by beating Inverness in the play-off final.
Callum Davidson is confident this season will see an improvement from St Johnstone, although the manager admits their primary objective is to survive in the cinch Premiership.
After finishing in the top six for nine out of the previous 10 campaigns, Saints endured a grim 2021-22 as they sat bottom of the table for long periods before eventually securing their safety with victory over Inverness in the play-off final in May.
Asked what success will look like for the Perth side this season, Davidson – whose team are one of the favourites to finish bottom – said: “Staying up. We want good cup runs but first and foremost we have to stay in the league.
“That always sounds negative but we’ve always said it at this club for as long as I can remember. We need to make sure we start the season well and give ourselves an opportunity to score some goals and push ourselves as high up the league as we can.
“For me, it’s about playing with enthusiasm and positivity, and giving the supporters something to shout about. I hope this season’s better than the last one or I won’t be sitting here. I’m confident. I think we’ve got a good squad together.”
Davidson has lost some big characters like Shaun Rooney, Zander Clark, Jamie McCart and Liam Craig over the summer but he is happy with his recruitment so far and believes he has signed players in the mould of those who have brought relative success to the club in previous seasons.
“It’s been quite a big turnover and it’s hard to get players in but I’m pleased with the ones we’ve got in,” he said. “I think we’ve got a real good attacking threat now.
“We’ve got a good balance as well – we’ve got some experienced boys in to replace the ones we’ve lost and we’ve got some young players in too. We’ve signed some slightly older ones who have got good experience at bigger clubs and know what it takes. They can help the younger ones.
“I think if I went and signed too many young players from England or other places, it would be hard to build that squad nucleus. To me that’s one of the most important things. That’s been the success of this club over the past 10 years, so I didn’t want to veer too far away from that.
“We’ve got a few injuries at the moment and we want to get our long-termers back soon and, with that, the squad will be pretty strong and we’ll be in a good place.”
After suffering a Premier Sports Cup exit, Saints kick off their league campaign on Saturday at home to a Hibernian side who have also undergone significant transformation under new manager Lee Johnson over the summer.
“Hibs are a little bit unknown,” said Davidson. “They’re one of the teams that have signed a lot of players so we’ve done as much research as we can on them.
“I expect a really tough, tight game. For me, it’s about what we do with and, most importantly, without the ball and give ourselves a chance to win. It’s going to be a really tough league so it’s really important we start well.”