St Johnstone V Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park : Match Preview

14 April 2017

Battle for Europe much more fun than fight for survival, says Davidson

St Johnstone's Murray Davidson will enjoy the battle for a European spot safe from the more intense pressure of fighting for Ladbrokes Premiership survival.

The Perth club clinched a top-six spot for the sixth successive season two weeks ago, despite a 1-0 defeat at Hamilton.

Tommy Wright's side side are in fourth place, five points ahead of Hearts, and are hopeful of a Europa League spot next season as they prepare to meet Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park.

"There is pressure no matter where you are in the league," he said.

"But you would much rather be under the pressure we are under, trying to finish fourth, than probably six other teams who are fighting to stay out of the bottom two places.

"It is a good pressure. You have to thrive on it, you have to enjoy it. We have been lucky enough, because for four or five seasons we have been in Europe."

Davidson is wary of a backlash from the visit of Aberdeen, who suffered a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Rangers last week.

He said: "I thought in the second half that it was a matter of time before Aberdeen scored.

"I thought they were a lot better, they played at a better tempo and then Rangers scored and of course they scored three in four minutes or so.

"So it was a very strange game, but it is a different game this week.

"They will be looking at coming down and getting a positive result and we know we are going to have to be at it to get a result, because they are a very good team."

Meanwhile, Aberdeen will not be spending the next five weeks looking over their shoulders, according to boss Derek McInnes.

The Dons could have all but wrapped up second place last Sunday when Rangers visited Pittodrie but their 3-0 defeat to Pedro Caixinha's Gers means the Ibrox side have cut the gap to nine points with six games to play.

However, Reds boss McInnes stressed the he will only worry about what the Light Blues are up to until once his side have completed their fixtures in the meantime.

Asked if he hoped to have second place wrapped up by the time they visit Glasgow next month, he said: "My focus is on St Johnstone on Saturday and after that it will be the next game.

"It's not on Rangers. Just because they managed to beat us on Sunday - or certainly we managed to beat ourselves - it doesn't mean to say that all of a sudden they are the main focus. We're not getting caught up in any of that.

"We've been on a brilliant run," he said. "We undid ourselves at the weekend. The first goal was bad enough. It was so preventable - and the second goal, well...

"But over the last three months the form has been so good and that's what we'll concentrate on, rather than the disappointment of Sunday."

St Johnstone pair Richard Foster and Danny Swanson return from two-game bans but Graham Cummins is suspended after going through the disciplinary points barrier.

Skipper Steven Anderson (ankle) could make the game and midfielder Murray Davidson should be fine for the trip to the Highlands after suffering from a back problem, while Keith Watson (knee), Ally Gilchrist (groin) and Chris Kane (knee) remain on the sidelines.

Aberdeen defender Mark Reynolds could make his return to action against St Johnstone after recovering from hernia surgery after six weeks out while the Reds have no other injury concerns.