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Steven MacLean flies out for St Johnstone second leg

But the striker may not start against FK Trakai in Lithuania.

FOOTBALL 05/07/17 12:41
Steven MacLean flies out for St Johnstone second leg

Steven MacLean has jetted out to Lithuania with the rest of his St Johnstone team-mates – but may only be there to cheer on their attempt at a Europa League fightback.

The striker was among a 23-man squad that took off from Edinburgh Airport ahead of Thursday’s second-leg clash with FK Trakai.

Saints trail 2-1 following last week’s McDiarmid defeat in the first qualifying round but hope to turn things around on the LFF Stadium’s artificial surface.

A long-standing knee complaint usually prohibits MacLean from playing on plastic but the veteran frontman has volunteered to lead the Perth side’s rescue mission.

Manager Tommy Wright has already said he will only risk his main man if he gets the backing of club doctors but was unwilling to confirm if he had received the news he was looking for before boarding the flight to Vilnius.

“Steven is travelling,” said Wright. “But I’m not going to disclose my team now.

“We’ve got 23 in the party and that’s the number of spaces we had left. With the injuries we’ve had I didn’t see much point leaving him behind.

“He is on the plane but we will have to wait and see if he is there as a player or a supporter.”

Saints were out-classed by Trakai last week but Wright reckons playing away from the Fair City will boost their chances.

Vaidas Silenas scored Trakai's second goal in their 2-1 win last week
Vaidas Silenas scored Trakai’s second goal in their 2-1 win last week (Jeff Holmes/PA)

His counter-attacking team are built for playing away from home and have racked up a number of impressive results abroad in recent seasons.

Wright – who confirmed Steven Anderson (knock), Brian Easton (calf) and Keith Watson (knee) have all missed the trip – said: “Our recent away record will be a big boost to us and might change Trakai’s approach to the game.

“Do they feel they have done enough and sit in? Or do they try to get the one goal that really doesn’t change it from our perspective? We still have to score two.

“It’s a big night for Trakai. They probably feel that the hard work is done as they haven’t really been in this position before.

“Whenever they have played away in Europe previously, they have usually come back with defeats. They have put themselves in a good position but I don’t think it’s enough to rule us out.

“Over the last few seasons we have been better away from home and that’s a big plus for us.

Stevie May celebrates his goal against Rosenborg in July 2013
Stevie May celebrates his goal against Rosenborg in July 2013 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Catching teams on the counter is our strength and we’ve proved that in the past. We’ve had some great results on the road in Europe. We’ve beaten Rosenborg away, went to Minsk and won.

“I’d rather be going away this time with a better first-leg result than being 2-1 down but I’m still confident we can turn it around.”

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