LAST season Steven MacLean bucked the odds to bounce back from major knee surgery to shock Motherwell with a double.

And he went on to cap his comeback with St Johnstone's second goal to secure their first ever Scottish Cup in a May 17 final with Dundee United.

Now the Perth centre is hoping to mirror last term's dramatic turnaround in fortunes.

Four months on from a sickening knee injury and more surgery, the 32-year-old has declared he's ready to answer manager Tommy Wright's SOS call, with on loan Dundee United striker Brian Graham ruled out.

MacLean hasn't got an U20 run out but he insisted: "I want to play against Dundee United. I'm ready.

"Our physio, Michael McBride, and the manager will probably get their heads together and make the decision.

"But from my point of view, I'm back training and I want to play.

"I came back last season and scored two goals. That's probably a one-off but it strengthens my case.

"It would be nice to come back and have an impact in your first match back. It's what keeps you going when you're out.

"The two goals against Motherwell last season were special because I'd dreamed about coming back and hitting the ground running again.

"I was buzzing that day and I'd love the chance to give it another shot this weekend.

"I've told the gaffer I won't lie to him - you can't do that anyway because he sees me on the training pitch. He's been watching me, he knows. And he'll see if I'm struggling."

MacLean admits he's weeks ahead of schedule thanks to cutting edge technology and staff at Edinburgh's Spire Shawfair Hospital.

"I've known what I've had to do and the physio, Michael, sorting out the running machine has really helped.

"I am about six weeks ahead of where I thought I'd be.

"The treadmill at Shawfair has been a massive help and the physio has been brilliant with me.

"It gave me about 200 minutes of running I wouldn't have got. I've been able to do other stuff off the back of that.

"So I'm feeling fit and ready to go against United - if the manager picks me."

If he does start, MacLean will be looking to find a way past Radoslaw Cierzniak who has admitted he will never forget the 'special' moment he finally triumphed over Celtic - and insists a follow-up win over St Johnstone today would round off the perfect Christmas.

The triumphant Tangerines are still on a high from beating Ronny Deila's men 2-1 in front of the live cameras last Sunday, and no-one more so than their Polish keeper who had extra cause to savour their long-awaited result.

Poliah ace Cierzniak's entire family were in the City of Discovery to realise just what it meant to Jackie McNamara's men and the 31-year-old admits that's what made it all the more sweet this festive period.

He said: "It was amazing.

"It was the first time I've beaten Celtic since coming to Scotland. It's been a long time coming to be honest.

"It was also special because my family were all here too. That's what made it extra good.

"My father-in-law,was in the stadium. My wife, Donata, and our daughter, Nella, watched it as well on television.

"It's the first time my family have been across from Poland for Christmas.

"It's a special time for me and my Wife as it's our first Christmas together with our daughter who is just seven months.

"It's a great feeling when you are all together as a family.

"Now, all I can say, is that another win would make it a great Christmas period and that's what we're all geared up to try and do on Saturday against St Johnstone."