CALLUM HENDRY returned to McDiarmid Park on Monday morning faced with a totally different challenge from what he’s been used to so far this season.
Since September, the striker – son of Scotland legend Colin Hendry – had been tasked with firing Kilmarnock to promotion back to the Premiership following their relegation last term.
The 24-year-old bagged five goals in 15 appearances for the Rugby Park outfit during his loan spell in Ayrshire.
Goals have been a problem for St Johnstone all season – only managing 11 in the league so far.
And that’s exactly why boss Callum Davidson decided to recall Hendry.
So, the hitman has gone from being the main man in a promotion bid, to now being a key component in trying to help Saints survive in Scotland’s top flight.
Davidson is happy to have Hendry back in his squad, admitting he is excited to see the impact the striker can have on his side.
He said: “He’s been playing games. The transfer window is really difficult in terms of getting players but he’s been playing games at the top of the Championship and it would be daft of me not to bring him back.
“The reason he went out was to play games and now he can come back and prove what he can do – show St Johnstone in the Premiership what he can do.
“We need to get goals, the system we play suits him so I think he’ll be a key addition. He can go on little streaks, Callum. So hopefully we can get the best out of him in the coming weeks.
“We’ll have John Mahon (for Wednesday) and we’ll hopefully have Cammy MacPherson back, I think the deal’s pretty close to being done. He’s a big player.
“Mahon’s probably just a little bit short in match fitness.
“He looks strong and really aggressive – I knew that’s what I would be getting. He’s got older school qualities – competing for every ball and putting his body on the line.
“It was a hard training session on purpose today – really for John so we could see where he was. We had a good 10 v 10 game.
“Like the rest of the boys who have come in, the quicker I can get him up to speed the better.
“O’Halloran will be out for Wednesday, he’s done his hamstring. It was just before the goal and it was one of the reasons the guy was spare at the back because he’d done his hammy from the corner.”
The goal Davidson was referring to was Kelty Hearts’ goal which defeated Saints in the Scottish Cup at the weekend.
Kallum Higginbotham bagged the only goal of the match in extra-time, as the League Two leaders humbled last season’s double cup winners.
The embarrassing defeat certainly irked Davidson, as he conceded on Saturday night that his job was on the line.
Footage emerged of some heated exchanges between the travelling Saints fans and the players at full-time, with Davidson and his squad having to walk in amongst their supporters in order to reach the changing rooms at the ground.
And while the Saints gaffer wasn’t surprised to hear the intense backlash from the sidelines, he admits getting so close to them after a humiliating loss was a first for him.
He said: “We’ve got to give them something as well. We’ve got to give them a tempo and energy.
“In all the time I’ve been here, as long as the supporters know you’re trying your hardest and giving everything you’ve got, they’ll always back you.
“They stuck behind us on Saturday and it’s important they do that again on Wednesday. I’m sure they will. They can definitely help us get a victory.
“I wasn’t surprised at the reaction if I’m honest. I’ve been there as a player many times before.
“The set-up wasn’t ideal – players having to walk through supporters. I’m just glad nothing serious happened.
“Emotions were all high. I was very frustrated an annoyed myself.
“The players were highly charged and the supporters were highly charged.
“You’re going to get criticism. You have to accept it and be strong about it. If that’s the worst thing that happens to you at a game of football, you’d take that.
“You’ve got to use it and move on and say: ‘come on, I’m going to be better and make sure they’re cheering me next time’.
“They have to give everything they can as a player and a person. As disappointing as Saturday was, it’s now about what we do moving forward. That’s the mindset I’ve taken.”