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St Johnstone need to use European exit as fuel for domestic season – Liam Craig

St Johnstone v LASK – UEFA Europa Conference League – Play-offs – Second Leg – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Liam Craig wants St Johnstone to use European disappointment to kick-start their domestic campaign.

The double cup winners were knocked out of the Europa Conference League play-off by Austrian side LASK on Thursday night.

The Saints were beaten 3-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 defeat in the second leg at McDiarmid Park, where they ended the match with nine men after substitute David Wotherspoon and defender Shaun Rooney were sent off.

Callum Davidson’s side have not won in eight games in all competitions over 90 minutes and have two points from three league games.

Craig is looking for the fallout from Thursday’s defeat to be positive when they travel to play St Mirren on Sunday.

The 34-year-old midfielder said: “We have to use the disappointment as fuel to go again.

“We’ve not started the league as well as we’d have hoped so now that’s the focus.

“It’s a great dressing room. We didn’t have a great start to the season last year but that worked out not too bad.

“That’s the levels we want to get back to, the consistency we want to get – so we can have more nights like Thursday.

“We want to put on performances to make the supporters come back. They have been excellent. At the end they showed how much this team means to them.

“We want to give them more success that they can enjoy.”

Craig believes the Saints players will learn from the defeat by LASK, following their Europa League exit to Turkish giants Galatasaray.

The former Falkirk and Hibernian player said: “We know how big an opportunity this was, to be in the play-offs and get a draw away from home gave us a real belief.

“That’s where the frustration comes from because we more than matched them last week and had a great opportunity to go 2-0 up.

“We knew we’d get chances in the second game, unfortunately just not as clear cut as last week.

“On this stage you will get punished. They showed they are a decent team with their goal – a free-kick deep in their half but a couple of passes later and they create an opportunity.

“We want to learn from those moments, get back on this stage and there’s definitely enough quality in that dressing room to have another good season.”