ST JOHNSTONE boss Tommy Wright reckons David Wotherspoon’s new lease of life in Perth could see him make the breakthrough to the full Scotland squad.
Wotherspoon struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot at Hibs but has come into his own since moving back to his hometown to join Saints in the summer and recently became a dad for the first time to boot.
Everything seems to be going right, on and off the pitch, for Wotherspoon who joined Hibs in 2007 on a youth contract, and Wright believes things could be about to get even better for him. Spoony, who will face his former club at McDiarmid Park on Saturday, already has a host of international caps at Under-21 level but Wright says that, if the 23-year-old’s form continues to improve, he could even catch the eye of Scotland boss Gordon Strachan in months to come.
Saints boss Wright said: “David has been excellent for us and I have been delighted with him since he came to the club.
“He is a pleasure to work with on the training pitch and is a lovely lad to have about the place, too. Not only that, but he also works extremely hard at his game and has been a great signing for us so far.
“We have tried to give him a bit more freedom and maybe shown a bit more trust in him and we just let him go out there and play his game.
“I think he has been quite an under-rated player but I see a lot of quality in him.
“I am looking forward to seeing him continue to improve this season and I think that, if he goes on to have a good run, he is someone who further down the line, could become a part of the Scotland squad.” Hibs travel to Perth with Saints old boys Liam Craig and Rowan Vine in their squad and Wright admitted that those two players in particular could pose a real threat to the McDiarmid Park rearguard.
However, the Saints boss revealed that he has also been impressed by a number of Pat Fenlon’s other summer acquisitions. “Hibs have struggled for goals in the early part of this season,” he assessed, “but I don’t think that you can read too much into that.
“They have players in there, including the likes of Liam Craig and Rowan Vine – who both chipped in with goals for us last season – who are more than capable of scoring their fair share. I have always liked (James) Collins and I think that Paul Heffernan is a real handful, so our defenders will have to be on their toes.
“They have strengthened their midfield by bringing in Kevin Thomson and Owain Tudur Jones, so they have got a really good squad.
“They were one of the only teams who could actually go out in the summer and buy players and, while they might not have quite clicked yet, they certainly have a very good squad there.
“A couple of wins would give them a real lift in confidence but obviously we hope that they don’t get one against us.”
Former Hearts keeper Steve Banks has been in goal for Saints in recent weeks but Allan Mannus is back to full fitness and is likely to regain his place between the sticks this weekend.
Saints have been going well in the league – they lie in fifth place in the Scottish Premiership table – and had a taste of European football last month when they played two rounds of Europa League qualifiers.
Wright, who became Saints manager in the close season, paid tribute to the work that his coaching staff have been putting in. “I’ve enjoyed it this season, things have been going quite well. All of the coaching staff have been excellent, everyone has worked really hard and I think that everyone has enjoyed it as well.
“Europe was a massive lift for us. The trust that I have been able to show in them has been reciprocated and I think that they were able to show that same kind of trust in me quite quickly and I think that has worked in our favour.”