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St Johnstone’s play-off against Inverness as big as cup final – Melker Hallberg

Melker Hallberg (left) feels the match is of similar magnitude to last year’s Scottish Cup final (Ian Rutherford/PA)
Melker Hallberg (left) feels the match is of similar magnitude to last year’s Scottish Cup final (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Melker Hallberg believes St Johnstone’s play-off against Inverness is every bit as big as the Scottish Cup final he played in a year ago.

Saints must overcome the Championship promotion hopefuls over two legs this Friday and Monday if they are to maintain their cinch Premiership status.

The pressure is on the Perth side and Swedish midfielder Hallberg feels the match is of similar magnitude to last year’s Scottish Cup final when he was part of a Hibernian side defeated by Saints at Hampden.

“These are the biggest games I will have played in this season,” he said. “I’d say they’re similar in size to the cup final I was involved in with Hibs.

“After we secured the play-off, all the focus has probably been on these games.

“We know what’s at stake. We know what we need to do. In these situations, you need to go out and try to deal with it, relax and do your best out on the pitch.”

Hallberg insists morale is good in the Saints game despite the potential repercussions if they fall short in the play-offs.

“Inverness are a good team so it’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “We’ve gone through them with the gaffer. We’re ready for it.

“We’re confident. The atmosphere is good in training. Of course we feel the pressure but that comes with the job. We’re confident we’re going to do a good game.”

Despite struggling at the wrong end of the table, Hallberg has enjoyed his time at Saints since joining from Hibs in January.

He is optimistic that his side can enjoy an upturn next term if they avoid the drop.

“It’s a good club with a great atmosphere and good staff,” he said.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s been very positive so I don’t see why we can’t have good times again at St Johnstone if we get through the play-off.”