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Callum Davidson keen for St Johnstone to avoid coronavirus setbacks

:Headline: Callum Davidson keen for St Johnstone to avoid coronavirus setbacks:
Saints are due to face Hibernian at Hampden Park on Saturday.
Sports Mole

Callum Davidson is hopeful a combination of necessary game-time and strict coronavirus measures will ensure St Johnstone are in the best possible condition for the Scottish Cup final.

The McDiarmid Park side have had to cope with a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, which has robbed them of the services of key personnel in their last three outings.

They welcomed back the experienced trio of Murray Davidson, Liam Craig and Stevie May for Saturday's goalless draw with Livingston as they clinched fifth place and guaranteed themselves European football next season.

Should they win the cup against Hibernian on Saturday, the Perth outfit will qualify for the Europa League and, if they lose, fifth place will be good enough for the Europa Conference League.

Davidson expects preparations for Hampden to still be difficult this week but is keeping his fingers crossed they can end their campaign on a high.

He said: "The players put their bodies on the line – Liam [Craig], Muzz [Davidson] – some haven't trained at all.

"I wasn't planning on playing Murray for 90 minutes, it's just the way the game panned out with players. It's all credit to him.

"He works extremely hard. You can see his sharpness wasn't quite there; that's why we decided to play Liam, Stevie and Murray, because I think they needed that before the cup final.

"There was an element of risk to play them in order to get the result."

Asked about Davidson, who missed both the club's 2014 Scottish Cup triumph and this season's Betfred Cup victory through injury, he added: "[We'll] put him in full PPE gear, make sure he stays at home, comes to training and comes back again.

"You think I'm joking but I'm probably not, I think we all have to do it now.

"I'm just hoping for good fortune with Covid at the club and hopefully we are doing everything we can to make sure no-one has got it or passed it on. We are praying no-one else gets it."

St Johnstone knew a draw was good enough for them to stay above Livingston on goal difference and goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal kept out efforts from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Jaze Kabia either side of the break in the subdued stalemate.

With number one Zander Clark and back-up Elliot Parish both missing at the weekend, Davidson now could move to extend Zlamal's emergency loan deal from Hearts.

Livingston manager David Martindale, meanwhile, expects Emmanuel-Thomas to join Aberdeen this summer but insists his club would be due a transfer fee if that move transpires.

He said: "With the finances at Livingston, there's no way a player of that ability should be playing for Livingston, if I'm honest. I got him due to Covid.

"By JET [Emmanuel-Thomas] staying in Scotland, I've also got a handshake with JET that we would command a fee if that was a possibility.

"Would I love to see JET staying in Scotland? Yes, I would. Would it help Livingston Football Club financially if he stays in Scotland? Yes, it would."

The Lions boss admitted part of him was relieved his side had not finished fifth as issues with UEFA club licensing might have seen them unable to take up their place.

He added: "I'll be honest, it's probably a year too early for us."

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Scottish Premiership Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1RangersRangers6411115613
2Hibernian6330126612
3Hearts633095412
4Motherwell632196311
5Dundee UnitedDundee Utd631234-110
6Celtic6303164129
7Aberdeen62226608
8St Johnstone613234-16
9Livingston611439-64
10St Mirren6042512-74
11Ross County6033513-83
12Dundee6033412-83
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