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St Johnstone defender Jamie McCart would love a crack at European football

Daily Record logoDaily Record 12/04/2021 Matthew Gallagher

He has been an ever-present in a St Johnstone line-up that can reflect on a League Cup win and top six finish.

Yet dominant defender Jamie McCart craves more.

He wants more for his team-mates and the fans watching from home throughout a coronavirus-impacted season. And, simply put, he wants to play at the highest level possible and test himself against the best.

In that sense, European football is very much on his radar this summer. It would top off a special campaign at McDiarmid Park.

If Saints can reel in fifth-placed Livingston, who remain four points clear, then heading off to the continent in July is a real possibility.

Fifth in the Premiership will dust off their passports if a team above them - currently Aberdeen, Hibs, Celtic or Rangers - lifts the Scottish Cup. Of course, Saints could indeed do the unthinkable and claim the cup double which would be another avenue into Europe.

“After getting top six and winning the League Cup, we weren't going to sit back and enjoy it,” McCart stressed. “We want to win the remaining games.

“It shows the character of the staff and the players. We want to keep pushing and want more.

“We have a lot still to play for. There is the Scottish Cup and hopefully pushing on in the league to possibly get fifth.

“If, in the end, a European place comes with it then that would be excellent.

“Without a doubt you want to play at the highest level you can. That would be a real bonus for us and for the club.

“We can focus on doing well in the cup too and trying to progress through. We’ve got to take confidence from the League Cup.”

Three points, even a point, against Aberdeen at the weekend would have been most welcome in the chase for fifth, especially considering Livingston were thumped 6-0 at Celtic.

Saints had started the game in Perth well and their high press was working wonders to fluster the visitors’ backline.

Chris Kane, one of the standout performers this term, really should have opened the scoring on 12 minutes.

That was when Craig Conway’s wicked delivery from the left flank dropped kindly only eight yards out. It had goal written all over it but the striker blasted over the crossbar.

Despite being the superior side in the first half, Saints had nothing to show for it. And they were punished not long after the break.

On 52 minutes former Perth player Matty Kennedy threaded a neat pass through for Jonny Hayes who, after sprinting away from Shaun Rooney, clipped the ball beyond Zander Clark.

There was a late rallying call and Rooney nodded off the post before Ali McCann forced a smart nearpost stop out of Joe Lewis.

“It took us back to the start of the season,” McCart said.

“We had done our work on the pressing and we had been prepped on Aberdeen playing out from the back.

“We were very organised, just needed to capitalise on one of the chances. We’re at the stage where we’re disappointed when we don’t come away with anything, regardless who it is.”

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