Steven MacLean yesterday signed an extended contract through to the summer of 2014.
The St Johnstone striker, who feared his bid to secure a contract beyond January had been wrecked by a gruesome elbow injury in September’s Tayside derby win over Dundee, has impressed manager Steve Lomas on and off the field since returning to Scotland over the summer.
MacLean (30) kicked-off his career with Rangers more than a decade ago and spent three months on loan at Aberdeen in 2010, but the bulk of his career has been carved out south of the border at clubs including Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff and Plymouth.
And he admitted it’s good to be home.
“I’m delighted to get this extended contract and my future sorted out for the next 18 months. I’m enjoying my football again.
“The club spoke to me about a longer deal before I dislocated my elbow and it put things on hold for a while. At that point I was thinking the worst and feared I would be out for months. It was a worry because I wasn’t sure what way the club would look at it.
“It was a horrible injury at the time and definitely the most painful of my career. But as it turned out, it wasn’t as bad as a knee or ankle problem because I was wearing a protective support and doing non-contact training within two weeks of the injury, so my fitness levels didn’t drop.
“I’m grateful to the club physio and doc for their help in getting me back.”
MacLean turned down an offer from Dundee to play his way into a longer term stay at Perth.
He explained: “The ways things are in football just now clubs are reluctant to take a gamble on players. For the first time in my career I was in a position where I had to prove myself. If that meant taking a short term deal initially then I thought it would be worth it.
“It has helped that the team has been on a good run and it has been easy to settle in with the boys here.”
Saints missed out on a chance to claim third spot by failing to beat Ross County at the weekend but MacLean stressed that the initial target had to be top six.
“If we can get ourselves in there anything else would be a bonus. But with the quality we have here we should be looking for the top six again this season.”
Assistant Tommy Wright welcomed the move to tie-up MacLean on a longer-term contract.
“Steven has come in and worked extremely hard. He has shown a lot of quality. It was a surprise clubs down south didn’t grab him in the summer but we’re glad he’s here. Steven has bounced back quickly from a bad injury. That sort of commitment didn’t go unnoticed by the manager.”
The Perth camp was still nursing their disappointment yesterday after failing to put Ross County to the sword.
“It was a missed opportunity,” admitted Wright. “We felt we dropped two points. We created plenty of chances but we switched off momentarily at a free-kick and that cost us a deflected equaliser. “
Defender Frazer Wright required medical attention to a head wound on Saturday but he will be ready to face former club Kilmarnock this weekend.
Saints U20s face Motherwell at Fir Park tonight and injured duo Craig Beattie and Paddy Cregg will get run outs in their bid to come back into contention for the first team squad’s trip to Ayrshire.
On-loan Aberdeen winger Peter Pawlett could resume training by the end of the week.
He suffered a setback after rehab to his hamstring problem. But he has had a scan and has been given the green light.