Mar 16 2012 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
FRAN Sandaza is enduring a rare barren spell but manager Steve Lomas insists the goals will flow again.
In his playing days, the St Johnstone boss watched strikers like England ace Ian Wright and Northern Ireland hit man David Healy go cold in front of goal before rediscovering their mojo.
But Spanish centre forward Sandaza, with 15 strikes to his name already, has impressed his manager with his all-round contribution.
With a game looming against St Mirren in Paisley tomorrow which could prove crucial in the Perth club’s drive to secure top six status, Sandaza won’t have SAS partner Cillian Sheridan by his side, with the Irishman suspended.
Marcus Haber is on stand-by before he heads off to the USA to join Canada’s bid to reach the London Olympics. The youngster will miss a clutch of SPL games, with the club’s approval.
Lomas said: “I have had a quiet word with Fran, just to reassure him as much as anything. He might have gone a few games without a goal but we know it will click back into place for him again soon.
“Look at his pass for Callum Davidson’s goal against Dunfermline. That was quality. Maybe people only see his goals but there is more to his game.
“I remember David Healy being dropped by Sammy McIlroy in favour of Keith Gillespie for a Northern Ireland game away to Spain. He couldn’t hit a cow on the backside with a banjo at that time but he bounced back to break all sorts of records.
“Wrighty was among the very best strikers and he had a little spell at West Ham when things weren’t going for him. But he was patient and came back with another purple patch. It will be the same for Fran.”
For the trip to Paisley, the Perth Saints have to correct a record which has seen them fail to net against the Buddies in the last five encounters.
Skipper Jody Morris returned to training yesterday after a groin injury but may not be thrown straight back into the mix.
Lomas is hoping the enforced weekend break will have proved positive for his players as they pursue the top six.
“The magnitude of this match is obvious for us. So hopefully we won’t have lost any rhythm.
“A win against St Mirren would certainly go a long way at this stage of the season. But we know it won’t be easy. They drew with Hearts in the cup 2-2 and Tommy Wright was very impressed. They have a lot of decent players.
“But we have lost just one goal in our last three games and that has given us the foundation for decent results.”
Lomas admits recent arrivals Jack Compton, now back from an ankle injury, James Keatings and Kudus Oyenuga have had to be patient for chances to prove their worth.
“I can understand they will be frustrated and I certainly won’t be reluctant to give them game time between now and the end of the season. I know what they can do. But the boys that were here already have got us into this position,” said Lomas.
PART-TIME goalkeeping coach Alan Combe has taken-up a playing contract from Morton. The 37-year-old featured against Ross County in midweek. Perth assistant Tommy Wright, the Northern Ireland international coach, will take more responsibility for the keepers with Combe moving out.
SAINTS fans following the team to Paisley tomorrow can catch the Barossa Street Supporters bus. Timings are: Scone Wheel Inn car park 10.40; Scone Kinnears 10.45; Bridgend Strathmore Bar 10.50 and leaving Barossa St 11.30. Dropping off after the game is in reverse order. The cost is £10 for adults and £7 for over 65s and under 16s. Telephone 01738 628391 to book a seat. All welcome, members and non members.
SAINTS fans can win a signed football and boost charity. The Barnardo’s shop in Perth’s Scott Street is selling raffle tickets for a ball signed by manager Steve Lomas and the Perth stars. Deputy manager Mandy Fleming said: “We are selling raffle tickets at the shop at £2.50 a strip.
“Today there are 3.8 million children in the UK – almost one in three – living below the poverty line. Many families in our community are at crisis point, having to choose whether to heat their homes or feed their children.”