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Callum Davidson looking forward to return of ‘big player’ David Wotherspoon

St Mirren v St Johnstone – Scottish Cup – Semi Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Callum Davidson is relishing the prospect of having key midfielder David Wotherspoon back in his St Johnstone squad for Thursday’s Europa Conference League play-off second leg with LASK.

The 31-year-old former Hibernian player has been sidelined for Saints’ last four games after contracting coronavirus.

However, he has trained this week and is in contention to face the Austrian side in Perth in the second leg of a tie delicately poised at 1-1 following the first leg in Klagenfurt last week.

Boss Davidson said: “David didn’t really have any symptoms so he’s looking pretty good. He’s trained really well and it’s great that he’s back.

“We’ve definitely missed him because he’s got that bit of quality and composure on the ball that sometimes we need to get up the pitch. He can definitely be a big player for me on Thursday.”

Davidson’s small squad has been tested this month as Saints have juggled European, Premiership and Premier Sports Cup commitments.

The manager will be able to call on most of his players – Craig Bryson is out and Liam Gordon is “50/50” – but he admits it has been a new challenge for himself and his team.

Davidson said: “I’m not going to lie, it is a tough schedule for us. We always knew this month would be tough. We’ve got two games left, then we get a wee break.

“But I’m a big believer that if you’re playing big games you don’t get tired.

“These European games are huge and easy to get yourself up for. I want to get away from that being used as an excuse because I don’t believe it.

“As a manager, it’s the first time I’ve experienced so many big games in quick succession, with all the travel on top of it. It’s something I’m learning how to deal with as well.”

After an impressive performance in Austria, Davidson is “pretty relaxed” ahead of the second leg at a pumped-up McDiarmid Park as his side bid to land themselves in the region of £3million by reaching the group stage.

He said: “They’re a good team but we showed last week that we’re a good team as well, so we need to replicate that type of quality and energy in the second leg and hopefully we’ll make a game of it.

“I’m pretty relaxed about it. Nobody really expects us to win. We’ll have a big backing from our support so it’s more about enjoying it and making sure we play with confidence and courage. If we do that, I think we’ve got a chance.”

Davidson praised Zander Clark after he earned a maiden Scotland call-up on Tuesday and urged other highly-regarded Saints players to keep delivering on a consistent basis if they want to follow the goalkeeper into the international set-up.

He said: “Zander’s had to be patient to get his call-up so I think if the other boys keep performing, they’ll get noticed.

“In fact, they are already noticed because I’ve spoken to (manager) Steve (Clarke) about them so he knows they’re doing well.

“I’m not one of those managers who says he should be picked or he should be picked because I’ve worked behind the scenes with Gordon Strachan so I know how it works.”