What Hibs will get if second bid for St Johnstone defender Jamie McCart is successful

What praise can be said of St Johnstone’s exploits in their cup double-winning season 2020-21 that hasn’t been already?

Sunday, 4th July 2021, 2:50 pm
Jamie McCart in action for St Johnstone during the Scottish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Ross County at McDiarmid Park on March 20, 2021, in Perth, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

An unprecedented silverware haul under Callum Davidson placed increased focus on his squad at McDiarmid Park making the likes of Ali McCann and Jason Kerr inevitable transfer targets with clubs coveting those who made the Perth side tick.

Central to the best form across league and cups outside the Old Firm – and playing every minute since the opening day of the season – was Jamie McCart

Hibs are one of several clubs interested and expected to submit a second bid after an opening offer of around £200,000 was rejected.

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St Johnstone's Jason Kerr lifts the Betfred Cup trophy alongside McCart and team-mates on February 28 (Picture: SNS)

Why is he needed?

The defender – son of ex-Motherwell captain and Celtic coach Chris – is out of contract next summer. At 24 he is the right fit for Hibs – the type of young players Jack Ross is targeting in his strategy of giving local Scottish talent a bigger stage to play on – just as he did with Kevin Nisbet and how he is planning for Daniel McKay.

At 35 and 31, Darren McGregor and Paul Hanlon are not getting any younger. Ryan Porteous, their fellow centre-half, is coming under transfer interest of his own too after Millwall moved for the 22-year-old in January.

The time seems right to bolster that backline and it’s easy to see why one of the shining lights of last season’s success stories is attracting attention.

What they’ll get

A defender who defends first and foremost, playing at the left-side of Saints' back-three, in simplest terms, McCart could be compared directly to Hanlon who spent the majority of last season left of centre for Jack Ross.

Dependability has been a strong suit of Hanlon and the consistency shown by McCart mirrors that. Their statistics from last season (as per SofaScore.com) measure up too, indeed, they’re almost interchangeable in a defensive regard.

Both made an average of 1.6 interceptions throughout last season’s SPFL Premiership campaign in each game, and made just over four clearances in each match.

In the air, Hanlon was successful in 73 per cent of his aerial duels making 11 in every two games just ahead of McCart’s similar statistics of 70 per cent and 5.4 high-ball contests per league match.

Overall their one-on-one battles with forwards are also relatively close – Hanlon again shading the figures with 72% to McCart’s 69.

However the largest discrepancy comes in the Saints’ man’s distribution. An accuracy rating of 62% and 75% short passes inside his on half pales to Hanlon’s 72% and 83% success rate, but apply context with playing styles and formations – Saints overall were 65.9% accurate with passes to Hibs’ improved 71.3 – it still looks an area of development on a head-to-head basis.

Plus, coming with a pedigree of Hampden success is another positive attribute.

Competition

In that regard it is fairly easy to see what attracts Jack Ross to McCart – but he is not alone.

Just as Jason Kerr has attracted interest from clubs in England Hibs’ second bid could be rivalled by some big-name sides trying to unearth a Scottish gem, just like Ross is keen to.

Sunderland, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday, plus Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, are all said to share Hibs’ interest in the 24-year-old.

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