Callum Davidson is adamant there are “exciting times ahead” at St Johnstone as he looked ahead to the next phase of his McDiarmid Park stewardship.
The Perth side have endured a tough start to the campaign, with no wins from their opening five cinch Premiership fixtures and the sale of influential duo Jason Kerr and Ali McCann on transfer-deadline day.
However, Davidson – who won an historic cup double in his first season in charge – is full of optimism for the future after extending his contract with Saints until 2025.
News of the manager’s new deal came ahead of a stirring performance by a team missing several key players in the 2-1 defeat by champions Rangers.
Craig Bryson, Murray Davidson, Cammy MacPherson, Callum Booth, Liam Gordon and Glenn Middleton were all absent on Saturday, while recent recruits Lars Dendoncker and Efe Ambrose, who joined on Friday, were both unused substitutes.
Despite the high-profile departures, Davidson believes he has a squad robust enough to enjoy another strong campaign, now that the early-season distraction of European football is no longer a factor.
Davidson said: “The contract has been ongoing for a while so I was delighted to get it over the line.
“We’ve got a big task ahead of us with some new players in and I still see exciting times ahead for St Johnstone.
“Efe’s a great signing. He’s got that bit of experience and we don’t know how long Liam Gordon is going to be out for so I was absolutely delighted I could get him in.
“We’ve got young Lars and young Hayden Muller in that area so Efe’s experience will help us.
“He’s not played for a while and he’s only trained once with us so I didn’t put him on against Rangers but it’s all positive now.
“The squad is a lot bigger than last season. We’ve got more strength in depth and the attacking side looks a lot better as well.
“Once we get more bodies back, it’ll be a really strong squad and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Rangers eked out victory after a Kemar Roofe penalty and a superb James Tavernier strike cancelled out Michael O’Halloran’s opener for Saints.
However, the champions could now go into their opening Europa League group match at home to Lyon on Thursday without their first-choice centre-back pairing after Connor Goldson missed the trip to Perth as he was isolating and Filip Helander was carried off.
The Sweden international is due to learn the extent of his injury this week.
Nonetheless, captain Tavernier is excited by the prospect of having a full stadium of Rangers fans for a European game under the lights.
He said: “It is all about recovery now and we can look forward to Thursday.
“It’s our first Europa League game at Ibrox so we know the fans are going to be right behind us and it will be an electric night.
“The boys will be fired up and I can’t wait.”