Craig Levein wants St Johnstone to keep ‘working their backsides off’

Saints have taken four points from four games since the former Scotland manager took the reins.

Craig Levein wants St Johnstone to keep ‘working their backsides off’ SNS Group

Craig Levein hailed the work ethic of his St Johnstone players as he called on them to continue their “upwards trajectory” by defeating St Mirren.

Saints have taken four points from four games since the 59-year-old took the reins from Steven MacLean a month ago, and they sit just one point above bottom-of-the-table Livingston.

But Levein has been encouraged by the way his side have approached each match – including the recent narrow defeats by Hearts and Celtic.

“The players are working their backsides off,” he said.

“I know supporters don’t expect anything less but, believe me, it doesn’t always happen.

“They’re fighting, they’re running, they’re chasing, they’re throwing themselves in front of shots, so I’m pleased with the attitude. There are things we can get better at but we’re starting to see that.

“Even against Celtic there were some passages of play that gave me encouragement and hopefully we can continue on this upwards trajectory.”

Two players to have benefitted from the recent managerial change are forward Diallang Jaiyesimi and veteran defender Ryan McGowan, both of whom have featured more prominently for Levein after being on the periphery under MacLean.

“I’m not going to criticise anybody, I’ve been in enough situations where I’ve made a backside of it myself, so I wouldn’t sit here and criticise anybody who has been here before,” said Levein.

“Ryan came back into the squad because he was doing well in training and he’s an experienced player.

“I hadn’t seen a lot of DJ before, I didn’t know a lot about him but he showed signs in training of different things from some of the other strikers we have and he’s worked hard in training, and I felt he deserved an opportunity.

“I can only look at the players through my eyes, not through anybody else’s.”

After being heartened by the way his team competed in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat by Celtic, Levein is hoping for another strong display against Stephen Robinson’s fourth-placed St Mirren at McDiarmid Park.

“What I’d like to do is a lot of the good things we did against Celtic but get three more points than we did against Celtic,” he said.

“Hopefully we can play some good football, score some goals and put the points in our pocket when we leave here tomorrow night.

“St Mirren are difficult to break down and dangerous on the break. I think it will be a typical Premiership fight and I’m looking forward to it.”

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