Butcher able to relax in win

Bristol City have no fresh injury worries as they prepare for
their huge Championship clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Ashton
Gate on Monday.

The Robins are yet to taste defeat on home soil since head coach
Sean O’Driscoll took charge but their failure to secure a victory
on the road has left them six points adrift of safety with seven
games remaining.

The likes of Albert Adomah and Liam Kelly are pushing for
recalls while Paul Anderson came through 90 minutes following his
return to the starting line-up after injury.

But O’Driscoll is limited when it comes to attacking options
with striker Ryan Taylor (shoulder) back in training but not yet
available, and fellow forward Jon Stead (groin) still
sidelined.

City’s latest defeat on their travels, a 3-0 loss at Derby on
Friday, means a reverse to the Owls would leave the Robins staring
at a return to League One after six seasons on football’s second
rung.

Sheffield Wednesday, meanwhile, will be without suspended
defender Lewis Buxton for the game.

Buxton was sent off in Saturday’s derby win over Barnsley for a
second yellow card offence and will sit out a one-game ban, so
Martin Taylor will come into contention for a recall.

Seyi Olofinjana and fellow midfielder Stuart Holden made their
debuts after joining on loan last week from Hull and Bolton
respectively, and manager Dave Jones must decide if both are
capable of playing two games in four days.

Giles Coke, fit again after a foot injury, replaced Holden in
the second half on Saturday, while Rhys McCabe, Kieran Lee, and
David Prutton provide Jones with extra options in midfield.

Jermaine Johnson is in contention to start. He returned to the
bench following international duty with Jamaica, but fellow winger
Michail Antonio (groin) is out for the rest of the season.

The hosts will hope Will Grigg can manage two games in four days
as they prepare to entertain their midlands neighbours.

The Northern Ireland international, who has 19 goals to his name
this season, was a big doubt for Good Friday’s trip to Yeovil but
made an earlier than expected to return to start from the off at
Huish Park.

Grigg lasted 78 minutes of the goalless draw and Saddlers boss
Dean Smith, who is not expected to be have any other injury or
suspension concerns, will be hoping he is fresh enough to line up
once more against the Sky Blues.

New loan signing Romaine Sawyers appeared for the closing stages
against the Glovers and will be aiming for a bigger role on Easter
Monday as Walsall strive to stretch their 11-match unbeaten
run.

Coventry manager Steven Pressley will be tempted to keep faith
with an unchanged XI.

Pressley poured praise on his players after they responded from
one of the toughest weeks in the crisis club’s history to inflict a
1-0 defeat on league leaders Doncaster on Good Friday.

The victory would have kept City within touching distance of the
play-offs were it not for a 10-point deduction for going into
administration, imposed by the Football League 24 hours
previous.

Pressley made three changes for the clash as fit-again skipper
Carl Baker returned in midfield alongside Adam Barton, with Callum
Ball taking his place in attack.

Gary McSheffrey and Cody McDonald, both benched, will be hoping
for recalls while Steven Jennings will again be assessed having
missed out due to injury.

Dundee boss John Brown immediately tried to sign the former
Inverness and Ross County striker on a short-term deal after he
became one of seven experienced players to lose their jobs with the
administration-hit club.

A statement on the Dundee website read: “The signing which took
place at Dens Park this afternoon is subject to SFA clearance and
special dispensation due to Dunfermline’s circumstances.”

Partick Thistle signed two of the released Pars players, Jordan
McMillan and Andy Dowie, while Dunfermline reported that goalkeeper
Paul Gallacher had joined Ross County.

The Tangerines are facing crunch time as they chase a top-six
slot with games against Saints tomorrow night at McDiarmid Park
before hosting Aberdeen at Tannadice this weekend.

McNamara knows the importance of securing a top-half finish for
the Scottish Cup semi-finalists so will not mind if they win ugly
on this occasion.

McNamara said: “We always try to play good football.

“But when it gets down to this stage of the season it can be
more about the result than the performance at the end of the
day.

“I know the players can dig deep to win even if they’re not at
their best.

“That’s a side of their game they’ve shown since I came in so
they may have to do that again.

“St Johnstone are a big, strong side so we will obviously have
to match them in that respect.

“It’s going to be a very hard game but we’ll be ready for it and
hopefully come away with a positive result.”

United’s last outing ended in a 1-1 draw with city rivals Dundee
before the international weekend.

And McNamara reckons they’ve benefited from the free weekend and
are raring to go again in their pursuit of a top-six slot.

He added: “The lads are buzzing to get going again.

“We worked hard when we were in last week and then had a little
bit of time off.

“The players have come back fresh and are really looking forward
to this match with St Johnstone.

“It’s a big one and we’re under no illusions about that.

“We will be looking to win both games before the split so we
know what we have to try and do in that regard.

“I think the players are capable of that as they’ve shown on
their day.

“There are no easy games in the SPL but hopefully this one can
being out the best in us on Monday night.”

United will give winger Gary Mackay-Steven every chance of
making it as he battles to shrug off a hamstring injury.

John Rankin is suspended though and striker John Russell is
still missing through his knee injury.

St Johnstone need just a point against Dundee United to book
their top six place on Monday night but midfielder Liam Craig is
determined to finish the season with a bang.

Fifth-placed Saints would put themselves out of reach of all of
the bottom six including United by avoiding defeat in the Tayside
derby at McDiarmid Park.

Consecutive top-six finishes would represent an excellent
achievement for Steve Lomas’ side, especially given that they would
ensure finishes above clubs with the biggest spending power outside
the Old Firm such as Hearts, Hibernian and Aberdeen.

But Craig is not content with that alone. St Johnstone set up a
Europa League clash with Eskisehirspor last year by finishing fifth
but they ended the season in unspectacular fashion and Craig wants
to leave the club on a high before he joins Hibernian.

The 26-year-old said: “When you look at it, you wouldn’t have
expected that top six to be there with two games to go before the
split.

“But this year has been tight and we’re delighted to put
ourselves in a position to make the top six again, especially after
the start we made.

“We always knew we had the quality in the team and over the
season so far, it has proved right.

“But when you look back to last season, we didn’t win any of the
last seven games, which by our standards isn’t good enough.

“There are seven games left now and we don’t want to stumble
into the top six – we want to get there with two wins and give
ourselves a chance of climbing the table.

“We want to make sure we go in there positive and make a better
account of ourselves.”Victory in the televised clash would move St
Johnstone into fourth, three points behind Inverness and a
guaranteed European spot.

“After we got a wee taste of it last year, we are determined to
get back there,” Craig said.

“For a lot of the boys it was their first experience. It was a
great trip to Turkey, albeit the result wasn’t what we wanted it
was a great experience.

“It was something we wanted to build on this year and we have
put ourselves in a position to do it again, so it is up to us to
finish it off.”

Graham Westley takes charge of his first game back in charge of
Stevenage on Easter Monday.

Westley has returned to Boro, who he guided to back-to-back
promotions before leaving for Preston, to replace Gary Smith who
was sacked last week.

He will be without Miguel Comminges, who is suspended after his
red card in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Crawley.

With Lee Hills a doubt with a hamstring problem, David Gray is
set to fill in at left-back.

Midfielder Gavin Mahon is struggling with a knock but new
signings Alex Smith and Roarie Deacon could be added to the
squad.

Defender Smith joined on loan from Fulham on Thursday and
forward Deacon was a free agent after leaving Sunderland, but
neither signed in time to face the Red Devils.

The visitors will be without suspended midfielder Simon Walton
and three other players could miss out through injury.

Walton was shown a straight red card in Friday’s home defeat to
MK Dons for his challenge on Patrick Bamford and will start a
three-game ban.

Pools manager John Hughes could also be without fellow
midfielder Ritchie Humphreys again after he missed out against the
Dons due to a calf strain.

Defender Evan Horwood and midfielder Antony Sweeney are also
doubtful after they both sustained hamstring strains during
Friday’s setback.

Teenager Jack Baldwin made a surprise return to action on Friday
following knee ligament damage and played the full 90 minutes, so
he too could be struggling to last a second full game in the space
of four days.

Charlie Wyke, on loan from Middlesbrough, overcame a heel
problem in time to start against the Dons and although fellow
striker James Poole missed out due to a knock, he could return to
contention to boost Hughes’ attacking options following Thursday’s
departure of Steve Howard to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

The home side sent a stream of set-pieces and crosses into the
opposing penalty area looking for a second equaliser, Leigh
Griffiths having earlier cancelled out Ross Draper’s opener.

But Butcher was always confident his players would protect the
lead provided by Andrew Shinnie’s 65th-minute strike.

“They are a resilient bunch of players, really tenacious as
well,” said Butcher. “I’ve grown to trust them enormously.

“They all get on with each other and they all respect each other
and it makes my job so much easier. I can just sit back and
relax.

“There in the dugout today I could just sit back with my legs
crossed and let them get on with it – no broken dugouts this time,”
he quipped, referring to his recent Scottish Football Association
charge for punching through the side of the dugout at Dundee.

“A lot of these boys are here next year so it whets the appetite
for that. We’re on 50 points now, but we’re not finished yet. We
don’t like 50, we want another number. We want to get another win
on Friday against St Johnstone.”

One player who will not be back is Shinnie. The midfielder has
been instrumental in Inverness’ unforeseen rise up the table this
campaign, but the 24-year old is out of contract in the summer and
has his heart set on a move to England.

“I’m determined to give my all until the end of the season,”
said Shinnie, who capped off a terrific second-half performance
with the winner.

“I’m too professional to do anything else. We’re desperate to
get a European place, we feel that the players and the club deserve
it.

“He (Butcher) has been great for my career. After I left Rangers
he gave me the chance to play SPL football every week and I hope
that in the two years since I’ve been here that I’ve managed to
repay him.

“He’s played me every game this season. If there were times when
I struggled a bit for a couple of games he wouldn’t just dump me
out the team, he’d keep faith in me. He’s been brilliant for
me.”

Hibs, who for a long time this season looked to be challenging
for second place, now look likely to miss out on the top six with a
trip to Celtic Park their one remaining fixture before the
split.

Manager Pat Fenlon said: “We have to give it our all and go to
Celtic, which is obviously a difficult venue, but we have to be
positive and try and get a result and hope that other games go our
way.

“I disagree that we’ve been poor at home, we’ve had some decent
results. We haven’t lost too many games, typical of Hibs it’s
always looking at the negative.

“We’re looking at the positive. We’ve done okay this season, we
need to kick on before the split and we’ve got a semi-final to look
forward to.”