CALLUM Davidson has banned his St Johnstone players from travelling to their final Premiership matches on buses this week in a bid to prevent any costly Covid-19 outbreaks before the Scottish Cup final against Hibernian.

Davidson’s preparations for the semi-final against St Mirren at Hampden yesterday were thrown into turmoil last week when four members of his squad were ruled out by two positive coronavirus tests.

The Perth club, who signed Hearts goalkeeper Bobby Zlamal on an emergency loan on Friday, coped with the losses and recorded a narrow 2-1 triumph over their Premiership opponents.

However, their manager is wary of the build-up to their encounter with Hibernian on Saturday week being disrupted and has demanded his charges drive to their league game with Celtic at Parkhead on Wednesday night and Livingston at McDiarmid Park on Saturday in their own cars.

“This Covid-19 season has been really tough,” said Davidson. “What happened hits home that it’s still there. We need to be really careful. It’s easy to pass it on and we are very vigilant and strict at the club.

“We just need to make sure we get everybody safe and healthy for the cup final. That for me is the most important thing. It (the outbreak) hindered our preparation for the game a lot. It’s really tough for our squad if we’ve got four or five out like today.

“We had to shut the training ground down. We probably could have trained, but we shut it down as I didn’t want the virus to spread. We will now get the players tested again and hopefully move forward for the big games we have coming up.”

Davidson continued: “Once they make the decision you just have to get on with it. The really difficult one was the bus travel.

“We know it’s about keeping everybody safe and I think that between now and the end of the season all the boys will go to games in cars so if anything does come back positive it will just be one player we miss.”

Asked if last week had been the most challenging of his reign as St Johnstone manager, he said: “Without a doubt. All the clubs have had to deal with it at some point, but it is very difficult. Nobody can prepare you for it.

“My players were magnificent for me. They showed their spirit again and just kept on going. Hopefully we get the all clear this week and we can crack on with a full squad.”

Both teams had chances to score before Chris Kane broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Davidson felt the striker’s goal was crucial to the final outcome. 

“In the first half we played slightly better football and we managed to get into good areas inside their penalty box,” he said. “If I’m being critical, we didn’t take our chances when they arrived. Zander (goalkeeper Clark) pulled off a fantastic save in the first-half which kept us in the game.

“People will talk about Glenn (substitute Middleton set up the first goal and netted the second), but Kano has scored again to put us 1-0 up. He was in the right place at the right time and that’s the sign of a good striker.”

Davidson added: “It is always difficult as we knew St Mirren would throw everything at us. They have five or six big lads and a long throw. We didn’t have any real height on the bench with which to change it. 

“Liam Craig and Murray Davidson aren’t here and they are the two I’d have put on to try and see the game out. 

“I thought the lads were brilliant, how they defended and how they worked. When we went two goals up I felt we were controlling it and then they scored in the last five minutes which made it quite exciting.”