Danny McNamara admits he has mixed emotions as he prepares to bid farewell to St Johnstone and return to Millwall.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 right-back has impressed so much during what was supposed to be a year-long loan spell in Perth that Lions boss Gary Rowett has decided to recall him six months early.
But while the 22-year-old is excited about the prospect of breaking into the Millwall side, he is disappointed to be leaving behind his new Saints team-mates and the chance to fire Callum Davidson’s team to the Betfred Cup final next month.
McNamara will return south on Sunday, but he is determined to leave a farewell gift in the shape of two important wins as third-bottom Saints gear up for two huge games against relegation rivals Hamilton on Wednesday and Ross County on Saturday.
“In my head I was here until the end of the season,” he said. “That’s what I thought right up until I was told the other day. I’m gutted that I’m leaving because I’ve loved it here. St Johnstone have improved me so much, especially working under Callum Davidson and working with the lads around me.
“But hopefully I go back down to Millwall and put into practice what I’ve learned up here.
“Yes, it’s mixed emotions. It’s a weird one. My mindset is on St Johnstone at the moment. I want to go out with a bang in my next two games. I want to go out on a high with six points.
“I don’t want it to end on a low. I want it to end on a high.”
McNamara, who spent last season with Newport County, helped Saints battle through to a League Cup semi-final clash with Hibernian and admits he is devastated to be missing out on the chance to run out at Hampden.
He said: “That’s another gutting thing. I really wanted to play in the semi-final. Who doesn’t want to play at Hampden? It’s just one of those things. I will take it on the chin.
“Will it be hard to watch that game? I think it will be every game. Every team I’ve been at I keep an eye out for their results. I look at Newport’s results and they are flying. But at St Johnstone it’s different.
“I feel this has been one of my best moves — it has been a life-changing move. St Johnstone will always have a place in my heart.
“Would I come back one day? I wouldn’t shut the door on that, no chance. It’s been brilliant. I’ve loved it here and who knows what could happen further down the line? It will be interesting to see what happens.”
The Lions are rumoured to be sending former Livingston loanee James Brown north to soften the blow of losing McNamara, although Davidson says a deal has yet to be finalised.
But McNamara gave a glowing report of his Millwall colleague.
“Browny’s a good lad, a good footballer and he will settle in well here,” he said. “The lads here are so easy going and they will make him feel welcome. Hopefully he will get a run of games like I did and the chance to impress.
“What type of player is he? He’s maybe a bit more of an out-and-out right-back than me, but he will let his football do the talking.”
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