Artificial grass: Listen to players, says St Johnstone boss Wright

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Steven MacLean is rested when St Johnstone play on artificial surfaces
Top-scorer Steven MacLean is rested when St Johnstone play on artificial surfaces

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright thinks players should have their say on artificial pitches.

Wright cited a PFA Scotland survey that found more than 70% of players would prefer to play on a bad grass pitch than play on synthetic grass.

"The game is about players," Wright told BBC Scotland.

"If the figures they are talking about are a high percentage that are unhappy with them then it's quite right that something has to be looked at."

St Johnstone's McDiarmid Park pitch has come in for flak this season and Wright concedes finding the ideal surface is not easy.

"It's always easy to criticise the grass pitches when the weather is bad but pitches then get work done on them and they do improve," he said.

"Artificial is certainly different but I think it is wrong in a sporting sense.

"For example, we can't play Steven MacLean on it due to medical advice so there is something that needs to be looked at."

Two serious injuries

MacLean is the Perth club's top scorer this term with 11 goals but does not feature on artificial pitches after suffering two serious injuries while playing on synthetic surfaces.

"A few years ago I played on AstroTurf, I think I was at Hamilton, and a week or so later I had to go and see the surgeon," said the 33-year-old striker.

"I needed an operation as I had a micro-fracture. Then the same happened about a year later.

"I played on AstroTurf again and I needed another operation. I spoke to the surgeon and he advised me not to play on the AstroTurf. Now when an artificial grass game comes around the gaffer [Wright] just takes it out of my hands and tells me straight away I will not be playing."

MacLean says football is "a totally different game" when it is not played on grass, adding: "You can't move as well, it's a lot firmer and it takes your body longer to recover."

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