MICHAEL HIGDON hopes Motherwell can conclude a deal to bring James McFadden back to Fir Park.

The Scotland forward has been training with his former club after being released by Sunderland and could be offered a short-term contract until the end of the season. Higdon believes that would give everyone at the club a lift with Motherwell still hopeful of finishing in second place.

"Faddy is in training with us and if he signs that would be excellent news," said Higdon. "He's been very good in training and you can tell he has a lot of quality. If it's another body in that would be great. He has so much quality and it would give the fans a huge lift, too. I think our kitman would be buzzing because Faddy is his favourite player."

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Kenny Black, the Motherwell assistant manager, confirmed McFadden was back at the club but wasn't sure whether a deal was imminent. "It's a very similar situation to what he did a few months back," said Black. "He came in looking for training facilities, we were more than willing to accommodate him. He got himself fit and earned his move to Sunderland. Now he's back up it's very much the same, he's keeping himself ticking over, he's a local lad and we are happy to have him here. That's as far as it goes just now.

"James is a top player, an experienced internationalist who has played for a number of big clubs. At the minute we are in a position to offer him training facilities but I don't know the finances regards to whether we can offer him a deal. That's something for the chief executive to deal with."

Higdon is one of a number of Motherwell players whose contract is expiring but Black expected it may take until the summer for their respective situations to be sorted out. "I'd love to be able to tie these guys up for next year but what the lads who are out-of-contract might do is leave their options open until the end of the season," he added.

"Certainly, if we could get any positive vibes from them, we would love to be in a position to keep them because they are a good group of players. I'm led to believe there are initial talks ongoing with two or three of them but I would think they will want to leave it until the end of the season. If we finish in the top four and qualifying for Europe happens, then that could be a marvellous carrot to convince these players to stay."

Motherwell's chances of returning to Europe next season would be bolstered with victories over Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Fir Park this afternoon, and then Dundee United on Tuesday. "It's a massive week," added Black.

The Fir Park side are without the suspended Keith Lasley and Fraser Kerr for today's game. Midfielder Lasley and defender Kerr were both sent off in the final stages of the 2-0 defeat by Kilmarnock last weekend.

Steven Saunders played another 90 minutes in an Under-20 victory against Hibernian in midweek as he continues his comeback from a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Inverness will still be without captain Richie Foran for the match. Foran has now missed two games with a knee injury.

Simon King and Chris Hogg remain on the sidelines with ankle and knee problems respectfully.