ST JOHNSTONE duo Dave Mackay and Murray Davidson are ready to stake claims for returns to first-team action.

Manager Tommy Wright feared he would be without the influential pair for much of the campaign after Mackay endured major hip reconstruction work late last term and Davidson damaged a cruciate on Europa League duty.

The captain was expected to be absent for six months, while the midfielder had braced himself to miss most of the season, but they have both defied the odds and got 45 minutes in Tuesday night’s 5-2 development league win over Partick Thistle.

Now Davidson is set for a rapid return to the squad for Saturday’s home clash with Inverness Caley Thistle.

Wright said: “Cuptie and Muzz both got game time against Partick and have come through it unscathed.

“It’s a great boost for both players and for the rest of the squad. They are both well ahead of schedule.

“We feared they would be out long-term so we have to regard this as a real bonus.

“From what I have seen, if Murray puts in a couple of good training sessions there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be in the weekend squad. He coasted through the game. The boy is a freak of nature.

“And the only thing holding back Dave is the fact that he missed out on a pre-season because of the timing of the surgery.

“The next couple of games will probably come too soon for him but once he gets his general fitness levels up he should be good to go. He’s certainly way ahead of the initial schedule.”