ST JOHNSTONE midfielder Dan Phillips has expressed confidence the McDiarmid Park club can move up the cinch Premiership table and secure their top flight survival - if they continue to perform like they did against Rangers on Sunday.

The Perth outfit are just five points ahead of second bottom Ross County, who have a game in hand, and eight in front of bottom-placed Livingston with 12 matches remaining following their 3-0 loss at home to the new league leaders at the weekend.

But Trinidad and Tobago internationalist Phillips, who made his comeback from injury in the encounter, felt that Craig Levein’s team competed well with Philippe Clement’s side and is optimistic about the remainder of the 2023/24 campaign.

“I think the result flattered them a bit,” he said. “But from our point of view, we can’t get too disappointed at losing to a team like Rangers. They didn’t have a shot on target until they scored so that showed we were doing a lot right.

“Then it was two VAR penalties in the second half. VAR hasn’t been kind to us lately, but we just have to get in with it. Defensively, I thought we were good. We stuck to our plan very well.

“But we had to open up a bit in the last 20 minutes because we had to throw more at them to try and get a goal. It’s not the result we wanted obviously, but at the same time we can be proud of our performance.”

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Phillips added: “We only need to be looking at ourselves, not the teams just below us or just above us. We know that if we hit the standards we expect then we’ll move up the table. That’s our only focus.

“The manager has really steadied the ship. He’s got us more solid and playing with a lot of discipline. That should stand us in good stead. If we carry on the way we’re going I’m sure we’ll have a positive end to the season. He keeps us level-headed and calm.”

Former Watford player Phillips is certainly eager to contribute to the St Johnstone cause in the remaining matches of the season – starting with the Premiership game against St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday.

“I came back a bit too soon maybe because I was so eager to play,” he said. “But I’ve been well looked after and I’m feeling really good now. It was great to be back playing and hopefully I’ll get a long run of games now through to the end of the season.

“My contract is up in the summer, but I don’t pay any attention to my contract stuff to be honest. I leave that to my agent. My job is to play as well as I can in every game, work hard in training and keep my head down.”