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McFadden starting to fire again after seizing opportunity

EVEN the most bitter and hardened of Scottish football fans would not have begrudged James McFadden his triumphant performance against Partick Thistle on Sunday.

James McFadden shone against Partick Thistle
James McFadden shone against Partick Thistle

One of our nation's brightest lights in an era of grim darkness, it is a shame the forward will likely never get those two caps he needs to enter the Hall of Fame. Still, he showed enough the other day to convince many doubters that his aging body can still contribute to Motherwell's season, at least. McFadden had been recalled to the starting line-up for the first time since the shock defeat to Albion Rovers in the William Hill Scottish Cup, and he made the most of his opportunity, scoring one and setting up another in a 5-1 victory.

"I've got to take small steps and hopefully get back to what I know I'm capable of," he said. "It was good to be involved and to play in what was a good game for us. Hopefully I can kick on and make the most of it. I felt better, it's the best I've felt this season; to get a goal and have a hand in another goal. I enjoyed it. I think that's the main thing, I had fun playing in the game. It's something I've not done for a while."

The win ensured Motherwell ended 2013 in second position in the SPFL Premiership. But McFadden is well aware of the challenges the Lanarkshire club face in holding on to the runners-up spot against strong competition. "It's going to be difficult because there are a lot of other teams who are playing well and who have done well so far this season," he admitted. "It's important we keep going about our business in the same way. The last four games have been excellent and it's about maintaining that and keeping the run going for as long as we can."

The Fir Park side will welcome St Johnstone this afternoon, and their goalkeeper, Alan Mannus, is hoping that his recent impressive performances might be enough to oust Roy Carroll from his position in the Northern Ireland goal.

Mannus was watched by Michael O'Neill, his international manager, in Sunday's comfortable 3-0 win over Dundee United. "Michael was my manager during my time at Shamrock Rovers and knows me as well as any other manager," Mannus said. "I didn't know he was at the United game. I didn't have much to do but at least he is aware of what is going on. I would like to get a chance."

For now, though, Mannus is focusing on his club form. "The last time we played Motherwell it was a good performance," he said. "And we've kept two clean sheets in our last three games. It's important we try and keep that run going and score a few more goals."

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