Tommy Wright continues to work miracles at St Johnstone as the Perth club competed in Europe for the fifth time in six seasons and now the Saints are looking at the future to continue this trend.
The head of St Johnstone’ youth academy, Alistair Stevenson, believes the club are now improving and attracting the best footballers in the Perthshire region: “This is the first time since we started the programme that we’ve had that kind of number coming through from the academy. The problem in Perth was that the talent was probably always there, but they weren’t exposed to the same level of training and playing.”
These five players have featured for the development side and will hope to feature in the first team in the coming years and join the likes of Ally McCoist and Stevie May in making their mark at St Johnstone at a young age.
Part of the Under 17 squad that went 2016 unbeaten, McKenzie is a Perth born midfielder that has joined up with the under 20 development squad for the 2017/18 season. He featured, and scored in St Johnstone’s Bill Tracey Memorial Shield victory over Vale of Earn at Market Park in Crieff.
Another member of the unbeaten Under 17 side, Struthers, like McKenzie is a Perth born midfielder that came on for the last ten minutes in St Johnstone’s Under 20s side defeat to Aberdeen in the first round of the Irn Bru Cup. He played in a friendly against Manchester United at McDiarmid Park back in 2015 where he had an effort on the stroke of half time go just over the bar.
The right-sided midfielder from Auchterarder, O’Reilly featured for Scotland in the 2017 Centenary Shield as the Scots beat Wales and the Republic of Ireland in the competition. Signing a two-year contract, O’Reilly was another member of the squad that played in the friendly against Manchester United and was unlucky not to score with the last kick of the game.
Another player to have signed a professional contract at St Johnstone from Auchterarder, Quigley was another member of the unbeaten under 17 side and also featured in the friendly against Manchester United at McDiarmid Park back in 2015.
The youngest player out of the five to sign a professional contract, Sinclair only needs to look at current Saints goalkeepers, Zander Clark, for proof that you can graduate from the youth side to the first team. From Scone, he has been involved in the Scotland national development setup and Sinclair is tipped highly by the head of the Saints Youth Academy, Alistair Stevenson.
Stevenson: “It’s great news to know that St Johnstone have one of the best young goalkeepers in the country. He is a good height, very agile and has a fantastic commitment towards his training – so he has all the attributes to become a top goalkeeper in the future.”