St Johnstone: John Sutton cleared for Europa League campaign

By Jim SpenceBBC Sport
John Sutton celebrates a Motherwell goal
Sutton scored 13 goals in the past season for Well

New St Johnstone signing John Sutton is clear to play for the Perth club after being released early from his Motherwell contract.

The 31-year-old had been contracted to Well until 1 July, but Saints started pre-season training on Wednesday.

They and Aberdeen play the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round ties on 2 July.

But Sutton says it was manager Tommy Wright's pursuit of him that led him to reject a rival offer.

"That was probably the key factor in me coming here," the Englishman told BBC Scotland.

"There was another team who were interested, but Tommy kept calling me.

"He made it clear he wanted me to be part of this group and that meant a lot to me."

John Sutton shows his disappointment against Stjarnan
Motherwell were knocked out of the Europa League last season by Stjarnan

Sutton, previously of Tottenham Hotspur, Carlisle United, Swindon Town, Raith Rovers, Millwall, Dundee, St Mirren, Wycombe Wanderers, Hearts and Central Coast Mariners, was in his second spell at Fir Park.

He scored 13 goals in 43 appearances in a disappointing season for the Lanarkshire club, who avoided relegation with a play-off final victory over Rangers.

However, they had finished third in his first season back at Motherwell, but they had a brief taste of Europa League football - they fell at the first hurdle when beaten by Stjarnan of Iceland - and Sutton says that was another factor that attracted him to McDiarmid Park.

"That's one of my regrets - that we never made it to the group stage," he said.

"That's a long way away here at the moment we're right in the first round, but it's fantastic.

"You'd much rather play those games than pre season games and hopefully, for the first time, a bit further down the road we can find ourselves in the group stage."