Lomas hoping to keep strike duo

PA Sport
Steve Lomas

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Steve Lomas

Manager Steve Lomas hopes St Johnstone can claim a European berth which will enable him to keep his squad intact next season and retain strikers Francisco Sandaza and Cillian Sheridan.

Saints can go three points clear of Dundee United in fourth place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with victory in their game in-hand at Inverness on Wednesday night.

There are twists and turns to come in the race for Europe, but Lomas knows a strong finish could prove crucial in his bid to secure a new contract for in-demand Sandaza and to sign on loan CSKA Sofia front man Sheridan on a permanent deal.

Lomas said: "I still haven't given up hope of re-signing Fran; I'd love to sign him and Cilly. If we can push up the league and get some more money, maybe getting into Europe will go towards getting them to stay. To qualify for Europe would be unbelievable, but there's a long, long way to go.

"I'd like to think the lads have enjoyed their football this year. I've certainly enjoyed managing them. They're a great bunch of boys."

Sandaza and Sheridan could be joined at McDiarmid Park in the near future by Derek Riordan, the third highest scorer in SPL history behind Kris Boyd and Henrik Larsson. Former Hibernian and Celtic forward Riordan, a free agent after a short spell at Chinese Super League side Shaanxi Chanba, trained with Saints last week and Lomas is keen to do a deal.

The Saints boss added: "There's no doubt I would like to sign Derek Riordan. It's about whether or not we can finance it, the technicalities of the deal. Derek is looking to get somewhere until the end of the season and maybe look to assess things going forward - I can understand that."

The most immediate priority for Saints is the trip to the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, when they will almost certainly be without key midfielder Murray Davidson. Davidson scored in the 2-1 win over Hearts before going off and underwent a scan on a knee injury. Lomas expects Davidson to miss out and the knee will be assessed ahead of Sunday's clash with Celtic.

Having beaten Hearts, Lomas is hoping his team can build on the result by extending their impressive away run at Inverness, who won at Aberdeen on Saturday.

"We're at the business end of the season. It will be very tough wherever we go," said Lomas, whose Saints side have lost away just twice this term. "We knew this would be a tough week. The first part of the job is done, getting three points at home, and now we look at a difficult journey to Inverness. We'll have to be at our best to get anything from Inverness."

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