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McCall issues repeat instructions

STUART McCALL does not think second place is beyond his players.

Stuart McCall says his side need to win their last three games. Picture: SNS
Stuart McCall says his side need to win their last three games. Picture: SNS

"We're not asking the lads to do anything they haven't done before," the Motherwell manager said.

He is right. His side have beaten St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle at home (their next two fixtures) already this season, McCall points out. And as for the final showdown at Pittodrie? It has been a happy hunting ground for the Fir Park club, unbeaten there since 2008.

Victory today must come first, though, with St Johnstone the visitors. Fresh from wins over Dundee United, Aberdeen and Inverness, and with a first cup final in their history in their sights, Tommy Wright's men - with star striker Stevie May as their free-scoring champion - are the team to beat. Or, more likely, the team you struggle to beat.

Wright was a lot of writers' pick for manager of the season, but had the vote been taken after the cup final - providing it went the right way - he would surely have been a shoe-in.

"They've had a really good run," McCall admitted. "They are the in-form team. I don't feel there's anyone got an eye on the cup final. People are playing for their places.

"They'll be as dangerous or more dangerous than normal. We've got to concentrate on what we can do, we played really well against them here at the turn of the year. We'll take a game at a time, but if we've got any chance of getting to second, I said we would have to win our last three games and that still stands."

Motherwell again faced a high-profile defection this week. For once, though, it was not one of their players scarpering off to pastures better-paid, but chief executive Leeann Dempster. "It was a shock," McCall admitted. "I only knew the day prior to the news coming out. It was a shock, a surprise, a disappointment.

"I've had a really good working relationship with Leeann since she came to the club. She's always let me get on with the football side of it. She'll go with our best wishes, she's worked long and hard here."

Herald Sport joked last week with Alan Burrows, the long-serving Motherwell media officer who was always good for a platter of sandwiches and interesting club stat, that he might be soon due for a testimonial match. He has instead moved upstairs to become general manager of the club, taking over from Dempster. Although it may be a left-field choice, as a man who knows Fir Park inside out, few seem better placed to care for its future.

Steven MacLean, meanwhile, has decided to stick around in Perth for a while longer. The former Rangers striker has bounced back from a four-month injury lay-off to forge a prolific partnership with May. He has been linked with interest from a string of clubs, including Hibernian, but is instead ready for further talks with Wright, hoping to wrap up a new deal before the William Hill Scottish Cup final this month.

"We are not far away," he said. "There are just a few bits and pieces to be sorted out. I want to stay. St Johnstone have been good for me and hopefully I have done all right for them. They stood by me when I was injured. The gaffer said to me that if I proved my fitness there would be an offer there for me. I think it will all be fixed up over the next few days."

There was just time to express his disbelief that strike partner May missed out on the young player of the year award. "I don't want to take anything away from Andrew Robertson at Dundee United, who has had a great season, but I just think Stevie should have got it," he said.

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