Lomas happy with underdog tag

PA Sport
St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas is happy to be given the underdogs tag against Eskisehirspor

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St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas is happy to be given the underdogs tag against Eskisehirspor

St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas claims his side are pleased to be classed as the outside bet ahead of their Europa League second qualifying round match against Eskisehirspor in Turkey on Thursday night.

The Saints finished sixth in the Scottish Premier League last season and now have a chance to make their mark in Europe. Eskisehirspor reached the qualifying rounds after a fifth-place finish in the Super Lig and Lomas told STV he believes being the unfancied side could help St Johnstone progress.

"We like the underdog title, we relish that," he said. "St Johnstone normally are the underdogs so it's something that's not unsurprising for us."

Lomas added: "We are going to enjoy the occasion. It's great for the fans. We've got 130 travelling and might have 250 over there. It's great for the club we are in Europe and it's not just a normal pre-season. We've got something to go out and play for."

The former West Ham midfielder, who took over as manager at McDiarmid Park last November, reckons his players are used to the underdog tag and, despite facing a tough test, has belief in his squad.

He said: "It is not uncommon to the lads they are going away as the underdogs. If you are to get results away at Celtic and Rangers, and come to these foreign shores, you've got to be defensively disciplined, you've got to take your chances and you've got to have a little bit of luck.

"It's the first time in 15 years so, like I say, we are going to enjoy it. The team are going to go there and give it their best shot. We know it's going to be difficult. We know the calibre of team we are playing against. Their budget is 15 times more than ours. The heat will play a factor. But our boys are quietly confident."

The Perth side's task will be made even harder in Turkey with new striker Gregory Tade ruled out with a hamstring problem and skipper Dave Mackay missing due to a calf injury. Midfielder Murray Davidson will captain the side in Mackay's absence and the 24-year-old is looking forward to representing St Johnstone in Europe.

"It was a bit of a surprise when I was told I was vice captain and obviously with Dave Mackay not making it, it is a big honour," said Davidson. "It's a new experience, I was at Livingston when they were in Europe but I was just a young lad so I wasn't really involved.

"So this is my first taste and I'm looking forward to heading out there and getting in amongst it. We've got a very experienced squad and everyone knows what to do, it won't take much from me."

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