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Wright calls for reinforcements to cover for casualties

Tommy Wright spent yesterday trying to find a way to plug the holes in St Johnstone's defence.

The need is as pressing as the day the Little Dutch Boy called in sick and his line manager had to recruit a stand-in.

The Perth side are straining to hold on to a place in the top six of the SPFL Premiership but have become concerned by the cracks which have now formed in their rearguard. Both Tam Scobbie and Frazer Wright suffered ankle injuries during a defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday, with the latter expected to be out for up to eight weeks due to ligament damage.

No sooner was Wright off the phone to the physio than he was calling up his contacts to source a replacement. The St Johnstone manager has been cleared by the club's board to add a new defender to the squad and the Northern Irishman has wasted little time in drawing up a list of free agents.

It is unlikely that he will complete a signing before his side face Motherwell this evening, the Perth side instead left to rely on the four fit defenders remaining in the squad. Wright is hopeful of bolstering their number before the weekend and a match with Aberdeen, though.

"It looks like Frazer will be about for six to eight weeks," said Wright. "We are awaiting the scan results on Tam's ankle. But unless by some miracle we are told he will only be out for a week then we have to get an experienced defender in quickly. We can't afford to go with just four defenders over the next few weeks, which are a crucial part of our season.

"I have spoken to the chairman and he has agreed it would be asking for trouble to take a risk on avoiding another injury or suspension. I have been busy over the weekend identifying potential players who are out of contract in Scotland and England and hopefully we can get someone in before the weekend game in Aberdeen."

There might have been calls for someone to step forward and help out top scorer Stevie May too, since St Johnstone's other attackers have thus far seemed shy about weighing in with goals of their own. "It's quite dry if Stevie isn't scoring," said Lee Croft, the St Johnstone winger. "Last time I was here I scored a few goals. We need to help out Mayso, not just with scoring goals but also with the service to him. We've got creative players."

Stuart Carswell was yesterday also left trying to imagine what it might take to gain a place in the Scotland under-21 squad, after he was overlooked ahead of a friendly with Hungary. The Motherwell midfielder has been a regular for his club this season but Kilmarnock's Craig Slater, Sam Stanton of Hibernian and St Mirren midfielder John McGinn have all been called up ahead of him for the friendly on March 5.

"You would obviously like to see your name in that squad," said 20-year-old Carswell. "Representing your country at any level is always a bonus. But my main thing is to go out and play for Motherwell and do my best for the club. If it picks up a bit of interest from Billy Stark, then that would be a bonus as well.

"I wouldn't say 'I want to do this and I want to do that'. It's up to the manager to pick the squad. I can't say anything to him. He has got his players he likes and that's it.

"Maybe my performances lately haven't been as good as they were at the start of the season but it's up to me to pick my form back again. I know there are young players out there doing well so it's up to me to go out and show what I can do."

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