THE imperatives of modern football mean Liam Craig faces a spring of playing for one club before he leaps to another.
The St Johnstone midfielder admits the signing of a pre-contract agreement with Hibernian is "a strange situation" but promised he was still focused on taking the Perth side into Europe.
Craig was typically energetic and combative as he scored in the 3-2 defeat by Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday and promised this effort would continue. "You just need to look at the past five years to see what this club means to me," said the 26-year-old, signed from Falkirk in 2008. "I've got to play well every week to keep myself in the team and make sure I end my time on a high. The last five years have been excellent and the club have been brilliant so there's now way I'm going to down tools.
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"I'll give everything every week and if I'm not playing well the manager will take me out. That's why I must keep playing well. It's a strange situation but I'm looking forward to the challenge next season."
He believes the Perth side still have a chance of qualifying for Europe. "We've been close in recent years in the Scottish Cup so if we could go on a run there and get into the top six, and end it on a high with European football, then it would be brilliant," he said.
Craig has no fears, either, about playing against Hibs this season. "It would be great to go and score the winner against Hibs," he said. "St Johnstone are still paying my wages and I'm a St Johnstone player. I love the club and they've been great to me. Five years ago my career was going, not down the drain as such, but I had to take that step backwards and the club were brilliant to me, so I'm going to give my all right up until the last."
That will help appease any anxious supporters and there was further positive news for them yesterday as it was confirmed that Gary Miller has not broken his ankle. The defender had an x-ray after sustaining an injury on Sunday but the results have shown the damage is to his ligaments.
Steve Lomas is now able to turn his attention to strengthening his squad, with the St Johnstone manager waiting to hear if Peter Pawlett's loan from Aberdeen will be extended this month. He is also keen to agree a deal to bring Welsh midfielder Michael Doughty on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
"Michael was up to have a look around last week," said Lomas. "I know Harry [Redknapp, the QPR manager] well from our West Ham days and I think he would be a good asset to have."