THE most famous strike partnership in St Johnstone’s history is back together again. Not since Stevie May stabbed a pass through to Steven MacLean – via a deflection – for the latter to seal a famous Scottish Cup win in 2014 have both men been on the books of the Perth club at the same time.

May departed that summer for Sheffield Wednesday before returning to McDiarmid Park last year via spells at Preston North End and Aberdeen. By the time the tousle-haired frontman was back in a blue shirt MacLean had departed for Hearts.

Now they have been reunited after a six-year absence thanks to new manager Callum Davidson. But with a twist. May remains a pivotal part of St Johnstone’s forward armoury but this time MacLean, newly-appointed first-team coach, will be alongside him only on the training field and not on the pitch.

At 37 years old, MacLean has hung up the boots after a peripatetic playing career but Davidson reckons his former team-mate is now ready for this next challenge.

“We'll put him out on the grass and let him coach some players,” he said. “And I think he'll be very good.

“When I was assistant manager here, he was always talking to the strikers. When you put a training session on, Macca was always the first person to get it.

“He was the first to understand what was going on. You could see his wee brain working on the training pitch, he was brilliant. So he's got that and I want to help him develop that on the training pitch.

“I saw him running the other day and he could probably still play. He's really fit and he's got that enthusiasm. I wanted someone in on the attacking side.

“We've got some good strikers here. Stevie May, Callum Hendry, Michael O'Halloran, Chris Kane, and we have a few good young ones too.

“That was part of my through process with Macca. When I worked with him, he used to coach players within the games.

“So he's always had that thought process and he's really excited about moving on to the next stage in his career.

“He'll find the good things and bad things about being a coach. But he'll bring a youthful exuberance and for the strikers, it's a massive plus for them having someone like Stevie Maclean working with them.”

MacLean was always full of mischief off the field as a player but there was an undoubted edge to his game on it. 

“There's definitely a serious side to Macca,” added Davidson. “Let's just say, he's lively. He was like that as a player.

“I've already told him he can't get involved in training – in case he loses his temper. I might need to ban him!

“But, seriously, he's got a great knowledge of the game and I used to speak to him all the time about strikers, their movement, how they play.

“We'll look at different things in terms of how we're going to play. We'll challenge him and he'll need to adapt. But that's the only way you'll learn as a coach. Steven has that winning mentality and that's the type of characters I want at the club.”

Part of MacLean’s remit will be to try to coax May back to his best. The 27 year-old managed just seven goals in the season just finished although, more encouragingly, five of those came in a two- month burst between January and the season being curtailed in March.

“Stevie May can recapture the kind of form he had when I was last here,” added Davidson. “He's got the potential to do that. He's our main striker. Sometimes he actually works too hard for the rest of the team, running everywhere.

“I remember watching him in England and he was doing too much, rather than staying in the box scoring goals. Our job is to get him shooting again. When I was here, he used to shoot from everywhere.

“So we have to get him in the right positions again because he's got the quality to score goals. I'm hoping he scores 20 goals next season, we'll have won a watch if that happens.

“It's about getting him to that level again and I think he can do it. Hopefully with the team behind him, we can push Stevie forward. But that goes for all the strikers. There are four or five of them who can go on to bigger and better things.”