Tommy Wright admitted that captain Joe Shaughnessy might have played his last game for St Johnstone after he was dropped for the 1-1 draw at St Mirren.
The 26-year-old defender has been outstanding since joining the club in 2015 but his deal expires this summer and Saints have withdrawn their contract offer.
Shaughnessy had been heavily linked with a return to former club Aberdeen and Wright believes it’s now time to look to the future and persist with the promising partnership of Jason Kerr and Liam Gordon.
“To be fair to Joe since it was announced that he wouldn’t be staying he has been really good,” Wright said.
“On form he shouldn’t be dropped but I have to have one eye on next season.
“I have to see Gordon and Kerr to help us build for next year. It is hard on Joe but he fully understands.
“He was told on Friday he wasn’t playing and he is someone that has done well for me but I have to look to the future and his is away from us.”
The young Scottish central defensive partnership were on course for a clean sheet and three points until Danny Mullen’s stunning equaliser in injury time.
Kerr only managed to clear a hopeful punt to the St Mirren striker on the edge of the box and he thumped an unstoppable volley on his weaker foot beyond Zander Clark to snatch a vital point for the Buddies in their relegation battle.
Substitute Chris Kane looked to have won the game for the visitors when he smartly finished beyond Vaclav Hladky in the 80th minute.
St Mirren are engulfed in a battle to avoid the drop and with late goals also affecting their rivals Dundee and Hamilton, they sit in the relegation play-off spot, two points off third bottom.
Boss Oran Kearney admitted it was difficult to keep track of the ever-changing permutations during the game.
“I was unaware of other results at half-time, I tried to focus on our game but then I had an idea towards the end of the game with the crowd’s reaction,” he said.
“You can get a good sense of it with the cheers and how it roused everybody so you can have a fair idea without actually knowing the score.
“We have a group who are standing up to be counted and thankfully we are free of injury. We had five guys who didn’t make the squad today and whilst it’s important to have that strength in depth, it’s also important to have variety which we have in abundance.”
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