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Following signs of progress to next round

TOMMY Wright believes that Scotland's stock in Europe is rising, with both managers and their players starting to prove themselves capable of adapting their game to continental competition.

The St Johnstone manager has masterminded wins over Rosenborg and now Swiss side Lucerne in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, two clubs with budgets up to 20 times greater than that which is available to the Perth club. He can lead his team one step closer to the Europa League play-off round when St Johnstone face Slovakians Spartak Trnava at home on Thursday night.

While Motherwell crashed out to Icelandic part-timers Stjarnan, St Johnstone saw off Lucerne in a penalty shoot-out. Aberdeen also defeated Dutch opponents Groningen in the Netherlands.

"Aberdeen got a fantastic result - it was brilliant from Derek and his team," said Wright. "Going to Holland and winning has given Scottish football another boost and I'd like to think the league is getting more confident about itself.

"There has been a different approach to it in the last couple of years. Nobody has been moaning about playing teams in mid-season or any of that stuff. I hate all that because you just have to use it to your advantage - convince yourself they'll be knackered mid-season.

"And teams with bigger budgets - use that as well, because there's more pressure on teams who can spend a right few quid on players. We all know that teams from abroad, at this moment in time, are going to be more technical than us. But we have our qualities as well and I don't think there will be too many teams who can match the attitude of the likes of Aberdeen and ourselves.

"Derek's team have a really tough game in the next round because Real Sociedad will be a top side. But he's a positive manager and will believe his team can win it. I hope they do and we can keep doing it for Scottish football. It's important we get the co-efficient of the country up. It's bound to have improved last season and now this year so we need to try to keep it going."

Wright's interest is not only at home, of course. The manager is awaiting a scouting report on Trnava as he begins to plot a course towards the play-off round. "Our scout Ewan Peacock was over watching them. He'll do up a very detailed report and we can look at their two league games so far," Wright added.

"By the time the match comes around, we'll know the set plays, the formation and their strengths and weaknesses. Ewan is very thorough with his reports and is a big part of our backroom staff. I have a great staff around me, everyone puts the work in.

"Ewan did some coaching at Aberdeen and works as a sports lecturer in Dundee. He'd been here before but we brought him back when Steve Lomas was the manager.

"We have come through a tough tie against a quality side and we're expecting Trnava to be good as well. No tie at this level is easy but I would doubt they'll have the budget and the quality of Lucerne.

"So we've got to recover from Thursday's game and get going again. It's a different one this time because we've always had the away leg first, this time round we're at McDiarmid in the opening leg. It does change it a wee bit because you don't want to concede and if you don't then you've got the chance of an away goal yourself. Aberdeen showed that on Thursday. A 0-0 at home in the first leg of these games is good."

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