St Johnstone have cleared out most of their strikeforce and will seek fresh talent as they strive to bring goals back to McDiarmid Park.
Derek McInnes’ men scored just 23 times in 38 games this season, the lowest tally in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, and forwards Collin Samuel, Andy Jackson, Peter MacDonald, Jordan Robertson and Scott Dobie were among nine players released by the club yesterday.
Goalkeeper Graeme Smith, wingers Danny Invincibile and Cleveland Taylor and defender Kevin Rutkiewicz, the latter on loan at promoted Dunfermline, will also go.
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McInnes yesterday secured one of his targets when David Robertson, the Dundee United midfielder, signed a two-year contract but it appears he could be pipped for another, the promising 22-year-old Dundee midfielder, Craig Forsyth.
Geoff Brown, the St Johnstone chairman, had sanctioned a fee for Forsyth and McInnes yesterday confirmed they had approached Dundee about a move.
However, Dougie Freedman, the Crystal Palace manager, has been watching the player, who could be lured by the prospect of playing in the Championship. Dundee will want around £100,000 for Forsyth.
Robertson, meanwhile, denied he was taking a backward step by moving to Perth. The 24-year-old turned down better terms to stay with United, including a testimonial two years down the line, saying the prospect of reuniting with McInnes and Tony Docherty had swayed him. He was concerned, though, when McInnes was offered the Brentford post last week.
“He could have been away before I even got here,” said Robertson. “But I spoke to the manager before I signed and he told me he was turning down the Brentford job.
“His reputation is growing all the time. It will be good for Saints if that continues. If you are recognised as a good and successful coach you are bound to attract interest from other clubs. But, hopefully, not for another year. Now I want to be part of taking the club on to another level. The top six has to be the aim. I definitely don’t see this as a step down in any way. There wasn’t much between the teams in games last season, but United had a good finish to the campaign.”
“Staying at United had a big pull and I had a couple of other offers on the table from so-called bigger SPL clubs. It was great working with Peter Houston and his backroom team but I felt it was time for a change of scenery and this move feels right.
“Tony Docherty was my youth coach for a few years at United before he left for St Johnstone while the gaffer was my first captain. They were both outstanding and working with them again had a big part to play in my decision. They know my strengths and weaknesses.”
McInnes has offered Alan Maybury a new contract and has not given up hope of persuading Michael Duberry to stay, although the defender looks set to return to England. The under-19 goalkeeper, Zander Clark, has been offered a short-term contract, but young players Neil Duffy, Jack Clisby, Ryan Sullivan and Johnny Lindsay have all been released.