BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Peter Houston insists Blair Alston will continue to play an integral part in Falkirk’s season – even if he signs a pre-contract to leave the club in the summer.
Houston confirmed after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Livingston that St Johnstone have informed the club of their intention to hold negotiations with Alston.
The midfielder, who has played nearly 200 times for the Bairns, is out of contract in the summer and looks likely to move on.
However, Houston was keen to stress that the 23-year-old had not been ‘dropped’ after being left out of the starting line-up at the Tony Macaroni Arena in favour of the newly-returned Conor McGrandles.
Indeed, Houston revealed Alston will return to the side for Tuesday’s Scottish Cup tie against Dundee at Dens Park and for the trip to face Rangers at Ibrox next Saturday.
Houston said: “I’ve been in situations like this with my previous club where players are in their last few months of their contract, but as long as they continue to do well (I’ll be happy).
“Blair wasn’t ‘dropped’ on Saturday, I’d like to make that point. Blair will play on Tuesday and next Saturday. I had to see what Conor McGrandles can do and I would have done it whether St Johnstone had been in touch or not.
“Blair’s been a good player for me and he’ll continue to be, because he’s a big, honest lad and one of the things I know for a fact is if he does sign a pre-contract elsewhere, like other players at my previous club, he’ll still give 100 per cent.
“He knows he has to do that and, whatever he decides to do, we’ll wish him well if he does move on.
“But he’s still got a big, big part to play for Falkirk between now and the end of the season.”
Behind your back
Houston has praised St Johnstone for the way the have handled their pursuit of Alston.
However, the Falkirk manager believes they could face stiff competition for the signature of the energetic midfielder, who is also believed to be attracting interest from south of the border.
The former Dundee United boss added: “It’s a nice thing to do because I don’t think they need to, but St Johnstone have said its their intention to speak to the player, because he is out of contract at the end of the season. That’s nicer than it getting done behind your back.
“According to his agent, there’s a few teams wanting to speak to him. I don’t know if there’s a deal been done with St Johnstone but they have let us know they do intend to speak to him.”
Meanwhile, after Saturday’s draw ensured they slipped back into third spot, Houston has lamented his side’s inability to take the chances they created against Livingston.
He went on: “On a day when we should win a match like that, we didn’t, and it’s frustrating. It’s hard to be angry with them but certainly frustration, because it’s two points dropped.
“The only consolation is we’re 12 games unbeaten now. It continues that run but if we’re wanting to be challenging right up at the top we have to win matches like that.
“There’s pressure going into every game, that’s what being so high up the league brings.”