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Fir Park ready for manager's next trick . . .

STUART McCALL has produced miracles at Motherwell with his loaves-and-fishes approach to making a little go a long way.

Despite operating on a budget tighter than Russell Brand's trousers, McCall has rebuilt his squad year after year and still created a side capable of competing at the top end of the table.

His transfer activity should not be as frantic this time around, which is just as well because there is literally no money for him to spend. Despite Motherwell qualifying for European football in six of the last seven seasons, achieving successive second-place finishes in the league, and selling Henri Anier to German side Erzgebirge Aue last week for a reported six-figure sum, McCall will likely have to use the loan market to recruit the central defender and striker he wants to replace the departed Anier, James McFadden and Shaun Hutchinson.

Crowds at Fir Park last season were lower than in 2006/07 when Maurice Malpas' side came close to being relegated and McCall revealed that his hands are tied unless greater numbers start coming through the turnstiles.

"My biggest disappointment is that as well as the team has done with goals, points and success, the crowds have stayed the same," said the manager. "We have a hard core of 4-4500 and we just have to accept that.

"That's why when we got offered money for Henri we couldn't turn it down. I'd love another couple of thousand on our gate and it's not as if they wouldn't be entertained. But I'm not sure the club and the team can do any more to get fans in. It's just down to the economics of the country we live in."

McCall hoped, however, that the chance of playing in the Europa League and competing at the top end of the SPFL Premiership would prove appealing to potential loan targets. "As things stand we are looking at loan deals for a centre-half and a striker, probably from an English Championship side or possibly the Premiership," he added. "You'd like to think our record would help [with that]. I would say, with Faddy and Henri going, the striker position is one of great urgency and importance.

"The money we got from Henri will plug a gap later in the year, I won't see any of it. What we'll get is his wages, I understand that. We can't spend money, despite what we've achieved in recent seasons."

Anier and his countryman Henrik Ojamaa have both been sold on for profit in recent seasons but McCall joked that he can't keep doing the same every year. "It's nice to see that we've stuck to the remit of finishing top six and selling a player each season. In the last few years we've brought in Ojamaa and then got good money for him and the same with Anier. I just hope they don't think I can always find a striker in Estonia. There aren't many more Estonian rabbits for me to pull out a hat!"

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