St Johnstone No2 Steven MacLean hails Kane and Melamed partnership ahead of Hibs Betfred Cup clash

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ST JOHNTONE assistant Steven MacLean insists all the pressure is on Hibernian ahead of Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden.

Jack Ross’ side have already endured the disappointment of bowing out the Scottish Cup at the last four stage this year and they will look to avoid a repeat of October’s clash against Hearts when they meet Saints this weekend.

McDiarmid Park legend MacLean knows what it takes to go all the way in a national competition after helping to deliver the Perth side’s first major honour in 2014.

And now in his first season in the dugout as assistant to Callum Davidson, the 38-year-old would love nothing more than to add another piece of silverware to his packed CV.

“It’s a shame the fans won’t be there but we know the supporters are willing us on,” MacLean told and Times Sport.

“We have a big job on our hands, Hibs deserve to be where they are in the league and we are under no illusions about it. They are favourites, they’ve had a good season and strengthened their squad again last week. 

“The pressure is on Hibs and the longer we can go in the game it will build on them. It will be in the back of their minds what the fans expect of them so if we do our jobs well then that might come into it. 

“We will need to be at our best but hopefully we will be and we can get a result.”

MacLean has been delighted with the progress and growing partnership of Chris Kane and Guy Melamed in recent weeks.

The later made the move to Scotland this summer after having spent his whole football career based in his native Israel.

MacLean beamed: “It has been tough for Guy, but in the last few weeks we’ve seen a difference in him. Against United I thought he was excellent and then he played Saturday and got the assist for Kano.

“Guy has come in and done well and linked up with Kano but you also have Stevie and Cal to come into the equation as well.

“Kano has attributes that every team needs. I always thought if he just tidies up certain things he could always be that number one. I think this season he has done really well and his link up play has been really good.

“He has been excellent and he just needs to keep it going. I say to him every week can he make it two in two or three in three against Hibs.

“I always say to all the strikers I think if you keep doing the right things you will get your rewards.”

MacLean refuses to take credit for the form of the attacking duo and puts their recent success down to their hard work on the training field.

He continued: “Chris Kane has to take great credit he is working really hard. Everybody knows his work rate. His work ethic is great, he runs in behind and his hold up play.

“The stuff he does for the team. I know it doesn’t go unnoticed by the rest of his teammates. He’s added goals now too. I think that is him got six this season in ten starts.

“It is really good for him and I am really pleased for him. It is what he deserves. He’s out there working hard every day. I think if he can keep this up then it bodes well for him and the team.

“I’m not taking any credit for Kano’s form. If they want extra stuff I will give them extra stuff. If they want extra help I will give them extra help. That goes for anyone in the team.

“They all do come and want to do extra and that is good. That is what you want, players who want to try and get better and keep improving.”

MacLean signed a playing contract this season at McDiarmid Park, but so far he hasn’t been forced to pull on his boots again.

On the prospect of returning to the action, he added: “It was only if something drastic was to happen with Covid. I think you can tell I’m not needed!

“I don’t know if I would be able to play now anyway. The playing days are gone now. It was never spoken about it was always just coming in as a coach.”

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