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St Johnstone must focus on first league win after hectic start – Liam Craig

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

Liam Craig admits St Johnstone must put their early-season highs and lows behind them and start picking up cinch Premiership points.

Saints have had an eventful opening to the campaign, but their brave European exploits against Galatasaray and LASK, as well as the departure of key duo Ali McCann and Jason Kerr, have overshadowed the fact that last season’s cup double winners are still waiting on their first league victory.

Veteran midfielder Craig knows that needs to change soon and has every confidence his team will soon start motoring up the table.

He said: “We’re disappointed that we’ve not won in the league yet, but we have to look forward now. The distraction of Europe – as great as it was – is out of the way, so it’s up to us now to put a run of games together like we did last season.

“The transfer window’s shut, the international break is over and we’re out of Europe, so it’s important now that we focus on the league and start getting wins as soon as possible. If we hit the levels of performance that we did last season, I’ve no doubt the wins will come soon.”

After a hectic start to the campaign, Craig is hopeful that the international break will prove beneficial for Saints as they prepare to embark on another tough schedule, starting with champions Rangers at home on Saturday.

He said: “Personally, I enjoyed the break and getting a couple of days off because it had been a bit frantic before that. We wanted to stay in Europe, but the break has given us a chance to reflect on the opening games of the season and what we can do better.

“Now we’ve got a massive month ahead, starting with Rangers. We’ve also got a cup game in there (against Dundee) and we’ve also got Hibs and Aberdeen as well, so it’s important that we start winning games.

“With Rangers winning the league last year, we know how difficult it’s going to be, but we’ve shown over the last 18 months and already this season that we can go and compete. It would be a great game to go and get our first win of the season.”

Craig has seen big players leave Saints in the past and has no doubt Callum Davidson’s team will be able to cope without Kerr and McCann.

He said: “I’m still hugely confident about what we can do. When you lose arguably your two best players, it’s going to be difficult, but it’s an opportunity for others to step up to the mark.

“They were two boys that came through the academy, so it’s great for younger players at the club because it shows them what you can achieve if you work hard and have the right attitude.

“We had success last season because of the whole squad. Ali and Jason played a massive part in that, but so did a lot of the players who are still here. There’s still a lot of quality here.

“It’s up to the rest of us to carry on the success from last season. There’s a lot of experience and a lot of young guys with a point to prove and there’s still a great atmosphere.”