Wed, May
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ST JOHNSTONE hit-man Jason Scotland indicated yesterday that he sees his future lying in the land he shares a name with.

But whether he remains at McDiarmid Park beyond the end of his contract in May looks like being determined by which league the club are playing in next term

Scotland took his career goals tally with Saints to 28 in 56 games with the brace which saw off Dundee and blasted Owen Coyle’s side back into title contention.

A decent riposte to the Home Office tribunal decision 14 months ago not to renew his work permit with Dundee United on the grounds his presence wouldn’t enhance the SPL, and one which is sure to have a number of clubs casting an eye in his direction.

The player is unclear on where he might be plying his trade after the summer, only that it is likely to be north of the border.

“There have been suggestions of interest in me from Germany but I know nothing about that and don’t think I’d want to go there or anywhere else,’’ he said.

“This is my fourth season in Britain and I am relaxed and comfortable here.

“My friends and family tell me to stay in Scotland.

“Some of them also tell me that with my name I wouldn’t go down too well in England!

“I think it would be best to take their advice.

“There’s been no talks about contracts with St Johnstone as yet.

“But the club know I want to get up to the Premier League.

“If Saints went up that would be an enticement for me to stay here.’’

Scotland is in no doubt he’d make his mark in the top-flight second time around.

“I think I am better than first-division level,’’ he said.

“But that’s just my opinion. Other people made a different decision when it came to my work permit.

“If I get back to the SPL next season though I’d be confident of performing in a way which shows I am up to that.

“I’ve seen a couple of games involving Dundee United this year and believe the Premier League when I played in it with them two years ago was a better standard than it is currently.

“It would be easier to play in now.’’

Saturday’s double ended a seven-match barren run for the Trinidad and Tobago internationalist.

His delight at getting back amongst the goals though was tinged with annoyance at being denied a possible hat-trick.

“Not scoring wasn’t something which was getting to me,’’ he insisted.

“I had a similar run last year and all strikers go through spells like that.

“What was playing on my mind though was the fact we weren’t getting results.

“As a striker, if you aren’t scoring and your team is winning then you are still okay.

“Out of the four games we played before Dundee we’d have expected to win maybe two.

“And after the performance against Gretna we were desperate to go out on Saturday and prove that we were still contenders for the championship.

“To score twice was good but I thought when I was brought down by Bobby Mann in the second-half I was in the box and I was surprised the referee ruled the foul happened outside the area.

“I was also surprised that there was no booking for him and a sending off (Mann has already been yellow carded) as I was going in on goal.

“After two good finishes earlier I’d have been confident of scoring if I’d got past him.

“And had we got the penalty then I’d have been looking for the ball.

“Nuts (Paul Sheerin) takes the pens for us but I’d have been trying to get it off him so I could go for the hat-trick.’’

Saints boss Coyle admitted Scotland’s return to form was welcome and perhaps overdue.

But in revealing that he is trying to make the player a more productive member of the team, Coyle claimed some of the criticism he receives is unfair.

“Jason’s contribution at the weekend was both vital and timely,’’ he said.

“He’s been showing bits and pieces in games without scoring and the bottom line with strikers is that they will be judged on goals. There must be an end product to all their good play.

“But Jason does bring a lot to our team.

“He is the type of player people will say doesn’t work hard enough but he is never going to cover the amount of ground that Steven Milne covers.

“His strength is getting on the ball and when he does that there’s no-one better in this division at causing problems for the opposition.

“I knew what I was getting with Jason when I brought him here. He has every quality.

“However, Jim Weir and I are trying on a daily basis to get more out of him so that he goes on to fulfil all the potential he’s got.

“For as much as he has plenty experience as well as international caps, at 26 he is still relatively young in football terms and we want to ensure he goes on to be the best he possibly can be.’’

Coyle acknowledged that Saturday’s win had been very much needed.

“We’d had a horrible, horrible couple of weeks.

“But how quickly things change.

“We might have fallen 12 points behind the leaders but all of a sudden Airdrie have won at home to Gretna, we’ve beaten Dundee and we are right back in the mix again.

“However, we have to take that on.

“There’s no point winning the derby and giving the fans something to shout about then letting ourselves down the next week. We need to get ready now for Hamilton.’’

The manager hailed the trio of Kevin James, Martin Hardie and Steven Milne for the willingness they showed to shrug off injury and lack of match fitness to help get St Johnstone’s season back on track.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the three of them,” he said.

“Stevie’s knee was twice the size of the other one but still he was prepared to go on the bench for us at the weekend.

“Martin has been in terrific form, making a contribution second to none in recent weeks despite having had to contend with groin and back problems and not being able to train.

“And for Kevin to be out for 12 weeks yet come back and turn in the performance he did against Dundee when nowhere near 100% was just fantastic.

“Stevie is getting a series of injections and we are hoping things will settle down and we get him fit again because, fully fit, he is capable of terrorising the best of defences.”

To facilitate the return of James, Coyle had to drop Steven Anderson but he insisted the youngster will return.

“Steven Anderson should feel disappointed at being left out because he has done terrific and it didn’t sit easy with me making the decision to replace him,” said the manager.

“He’ll come back again, though, and prove to be a tremendous asset.”

It will be tomorrow before Saints have a clearer idea on whether midfielder Darren Sheridan has any chance of facing Accies after sustaining a badly bruised arm against the Dark Blues.

“Darren is touch and go although, knowing him, he’ll want to play,” said Coyle. “He actually played on for 20 minutes against Dundee after picking up the injury and wanted to go back out for the second half even though his arm was just hanging there.

“We missed his influence in the second period although, equally, I thought Dundee showed some great spirit and fine play and we got a bit edgy protecting the one goal lead.”

Saints have been running the rule over a number of players, including Queen Park’s 20-year-old attacker David Weatherston, with a view to strengthening the squad next month.

“We will be adding to what we’ve got come the window,” confirmed Coyle.

“We are short of numbers and it’s important we get one or two in.”