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Motherwell 3 Inverness CT 0: Entertaining an old hero, but McFadden only visiting for now

PRE-SEASON friendlies rarely offer up any incentive for your average punter to swap their Pimm's and gardening gloves for a Bovril and a plastic seat during the summer months.

Michael Higdon rounds off an emphatic victory with Motherwell's third goal
Michael Higdon rounds off an emphatic victory with Motherwell's third goal

Generally they are rather placid affairs, giving fans the chance to get an unreliable look of how their team will not set-up for the forthcoming campaign, while also affording players the chance to reacclimatise after a four-week stint tearing it up in Magaluf.

There are some exceptions to the rule, however. Last summer Motherwell fans got a glimpse into the past as James McFadden was rolled out as the star attraction in Stevie Hammell's testimonial match against former club Everton. The palpable sense of giddy excitement emanating from the Fir Park frequenters back in July was more akin to a group of teenage girls in the front row of a pop concert.

It's little surprise, then, that hearts are beginning to flutter once more at the news that the Motherwell pin-up is looking like making an unexpected return to the place where it all began. McFadden watched on from the stand as his former team, with whom he is training after being released from Sunderland, pushed aside the first-half resistance from Inverness Caledonian Thistle to climb over Terry Butcher's side into second place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The former Scotland international returning to Lanarkshire is not an alien concept, but there is a renewed belief that somehow, this time, it is different. "I think it might bring a few more punters in. I got him in for my testimonial at the start of the season and it helped the numbers," said Hammell, who captained Stuart McCall's men on Saturday in the absence of the suspended Keith Lasley. " He has been in training with us and has been excellent, you can tell he's still a top pro, the young boys are learning off him as well.

"If we could do something to get him in then it would be a massive coup for the club. You look about Fir Park and there's pictures of him all over the place from his time here. Everyone still remembers him and he's held in such high regard even though he only played for a few seasons. It's a signing that would lift everyone. It would come at the right time for us as we are playing so well at the moment.

"We talk every day in training and have a bit of banter and ask him if he fancies it. He has other offers I think, he's on the phone to clubs every day, but his family are here and maybe he'd like to stick around for a while."

Where he would fit in to the Fir Park masterplan remains to be seen, as the club now look to further a sustained run as the Premier League's final furlong comes into view. For the most part on Saturday, McCall's men looked back to their best after last weekend's Kilmarnock collapse, clinically punishing an Inverness side that will be quite glad to see the back of them.

Despite missing Lasley and Fraser Kerr, Stuart Carswell and Kallum Higginbotham, on his home debut, both came in to play a crucial role in the Motherwell midfield, the former stifling the creative nous of Ross Draper and Andrew Shinnie, with the latter lending a new dimension to the hosts' attack.

Michael Higdon's double, a 30th-minute tap in from a shanked Henrik Ojamaa cross and a calm but clinical volley 11 minutes after the break, book-ended a frantic passage of play that resulted in Nicky Law eventually thrashing into the net.

This was Butcher's third trouncing by his old club in as many games this term, so it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that no player from the away dressing-room wanted to offer their thoughts for today's paper on a defeat that took their winless streak to six games. Instead, it was left to Butcher to sum-up.

"It was just one of those days," he admitted. Perhaps the less said, the better for Inverness, while tongues will no doubt continue to wag in Lanarkshire.

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