Liam Craig says St Johnstone are aiming to generate positive headlines in a period of gloom for Scottish football.
The midfielder will head to Turkey with the Saints for their Europa League second qualifying round first leg tie with Eskisehirspor on Thursday night.
Craig’s side’s involvement in the European competition has been overshadowed by off-field matters involving Rangers, after their newco was admitted into the Third Division.
The 25-year-old however has set his sights on providing the sort of positive headlines his club generated when they last played in Europe against Monaco in 1999.
“Scottish football is going through a hard time just now so if we can do something that helps then that will be great,” he told the Daily Record.
“It would be nice if we and the other Scottish sides in Europe could put a better spin on the game here because it’s all negative just now.
“You’re not reading much about the sides that are in Europe. It has been overshadowed by all that has been going on recently.
“So let’s look at the positives and it is going to be a great week in the history of St Johnstone.
“It is my first time in Europe and that’s the case for a lot of our players. But we have been speaking to the fans at functions and they tell you all about Monaco in 1999.
“I’ve seen the newspaper cuttings and pennants around McDiarmid so we are aware of what it means to them. I hear we are taking a few hundred fans with us to Turkey and that is brilliant for a club of our size. We don’t want to let them down.”
St Johnstone consolidated in the Scottish Premier League following their First Division title success in 2008/09, securing two eighth placed finishes before coming sixth last season.
“It has been a steady progression and a very enjoyable one,” Craig added. “Now we are about to open a new chapter with this trip to Turkey and I can’t wait.
“We don’t want to just make up the numbers against Eskisehirspor. We want to ensure we are still in the tie when we come back home.
“We are well aware of the club’s proud record of being unbeaten at home in European football so we want to maintain that.
“The atmosphere is going to be good and hopefully we can rise to the challenge. We have managed to do that when we have gone to Celtic Park and Ibrox in the past. We relish being underdogs.”
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