Jan 22 2013 by Maurice Coyne, Perthshire Advertiser
Liam Craig delivered the perfect man-of-the-match riposte to doubters who feared he might let his focus slip after agreeing a pre-contract agreement with Hibs.
The Perth midfielder slammed home a crisp 25-yard half-volley in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat from Motherwell, a result which delivered a blow to hopes of a second-place SPL finish.
But yesterday, the former Falkirk player assured the St Johnstone support that his mind remains on McDiarmid and a push for Europe, rather than Easter Road.
He even pledged to do his upmost to net against his future employers as Saints continue to press for another top-six finish.
With no indication that the capital club will offer cash to get him during the transfer window, Craig said: “As far as I’m aware, I will be here to the end of the season, so I’ve got to play well to keep myself in the team.
“The last five-and-a-half years have been excellent and the club has been brilliant to me. So there is no way I will down tools in the last six months of my contract.
“I’m 26 now and the opportunity has come up to go to another club —and one where I feel I can go to and do well.
“But that is in the summer and right now all I am focused on is getting St Johnstone back into the top six and into Europe. I will give it everything.
“We’ve been close in Scottish Cups in my time here and if we can have a run and get into the top six to end on a high with a European place again, that would be brilliant.
“And, if I face Hibs, it would be great to go and score the winner. St Johnstone are still paying my wages, I’m a Saints player and that is my focus. I love the club and it has been great to me.
“Five years ago, my career maybe wasn’t going down the drain but I had to take that step back when Saints were in the First Division. I will give it my all as long as I am a St Johnstone player.”
Reflecting on a weekend defeat which left Saints trailing Well and Inverness by seven points, he admitted they gave themselves too much to do by leaking three goals before staging a courageous comeback bid.
“We didn’t play too badly but found ourselves 3-0 down. Motherwell didn’t have to work too hard for their goals but if you go away from home and lose three, you can’t really expect to take anything from the game.
“We gave ourselves a chance at the end with two good goals and were maybe unfortunate not to take a point.”
Craig insisted there were plenty of positives at Fir Park, although “be more clinical” is fast becoming a McDiarmid mantra.
“If you go on a run of three or four wins, you are right up there’” he said. “We created a lot of chances and, if we can be a bit more clinical, the results will come.
“It was good to score a goal but disappointing not to get anything from the game. I scored three in a week back in October and hadn’t scored again until the derby win over Dundee at New Year.
“I need to add more goals to my game. It helps your team out and, if we are going to be successful, everyone has to chip in with goals.
“The manager isn’t sure if he can bring anyone in, so it might just be the boys who are in the changing room. We’ve got players in there who can win us games. We showed that earlier in the season. There is no worry or panic in the dressing room.
“But the league is a tight affair and if you can get yourselves in front, it is very hard for teams to peg you back. You see how many draws there are and I think it’s going to be tight through to the end.
“Look at Motherwell and Inverness and I wouldn’t say there is much between us. Were Motherwell that far ahead of us on Sunday? I don’t think so.”