St Johnstone: Steven MacLean signs up, boss want Swanson & Easton next

St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean (centre) has been at St Johnstone since the summer of 2012
MacLean (centre) has been at St Johnstone since the summer of 2012

St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean has signed a contract extension to remain at McDiarmid Park for next season.

Manager Tommy Wright told BBC Scotland that the 34-year-old had triggered a clause in his previous deal.

MacLean, who joined the Saints in 2012, has scored 10 goals in 27 appearances in this campaign.

Wright added that a new deal for midfielder Danny Swanson was a "high priority", with contract talks also ongoing with full-back Brian Easton.

Last week, Joe Shaughnessy, David Wotherspoon and Richard Foster all signed two-year extensions.

Easton, 28, and Swanson, 30, are both on terms that expire in the summer.

"It's difficult for us, with the wages we pay, to attract that extra bit of quality that can make a difference to us," said Wright.

"Danny is a high priority for me and hopefully the chairman can get him re-signed. Then we can look at the summer and build again by bringing one or two in."

'We maximise what we've got'

The Perth club are on course for a sixth consecutive top-six finish and Wright would love to start his fifth season in charge with his fourth European campaign.

"With Rangers coming back into the league and Aberdeen and Hearts strengthening it was always going to be tough," he said with his side sitting fifth, 10 points ahead of Motherwell, Ross County and Kilmarnock.

"For us to be only three points behind Hearts at this stage of the season is a tremendous achievement. Once again, we are fighting at the right end of the table.

"We maximise what we've got and it's full credit to the players."

Danny Swanson
Swanson has hit the net 12 times for Saints this season after joining the club in January last year

Scotland's Uefa coefficient has slipped from 23rd to 25th, meaning all three Europa League entrants will, for the first time, begin qualifying in the first round at the end of June.

Saints have never been beyond the third qualifying round and Wright says clubs are hindered by such timing.

"Some of the Irish teams have reached the group stage recently," he said. "I'm not an advocate of summer football but it probably would help in that respect.

"It's such a quick turnaround getting ready for a new season. That's the biggest thing holding Scottish clubs back.

"The overall experience is brilliant for the club though, for me as a manager, for the players and for the supporters."

Referee rang up after Sunday's game

Wright was angered by the penalty Celtic were awarded at McDiarmid Park on Sunday and felt his side were denied two spot-kicks in a 5-2 loss to the Premiership leaders.

He has since discussed the matter with referee Craig Thomson in a telephone call.

"It was a sore one but mistakes happen in football," he said.

"The penalty decisions were game changers but, ultimately, it's gone for me on Monday morning.

"I was pleased Craig rang me and what was said will remain between the two of us. I'm not one for holding grudges.

"I'm all for looking at ways of helping our referees, be that with full-time officials or extra officials. I'm not a big fan of TMOs (television match officials) but that might be something we look at further down the line. But they all cost money and that's probably the biggest factor."

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