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'Shaun has a big future in the game'

The transfer window offers only an obstructed view.

Shaun Hutchinson has impressed at Motherwell. Picture: SNS
Shaun Hutchinson has impressed at Motherwell. Picture: SNS

This can be a frustration for managers who cannot be sure of getting the full picture when taking a look at a player, even one that is standing right in front of them. Stuart McCall might have found himself stealing glances at Henri Anier this week given that the striker's loan from Viking Stavanger is up next month, with the Motherwell manager willing to extend his stay until the end of the season.

Anier has scored five times since arriving at Fir Park and the Estonian would seem to have settled in well - agreeing to play host to former Motherwell striker and compatriot Henrik Ojamaa, who is visiting his former club. The Viking forward's agent has reportedly suggested that Anier may yet move on next month, though, after claiming that other clubs are keen to get their hands on him too.

A striker who is performing well is always going to come up in conversation as clubs discuss their options ahead of a transfer window, although McCall is not convinced that Anier's agent is telling the whole truth. "Every agent is going to say there are other people sniffing around . . . I used to tell Walter [Smith] that Juventus and AC Milan were after me and he still didn't give me a new contract!"

The Motherwell manager has also expressed a willingness to retain the services of Lionel Ainsworth, who has made five starts while on loan from Rotherham United. He would likely be made to feel more unsteady were another club to make an offer for a player who has been more of a foundation for his side - with Shaun Hutchinson attracting interest. The Motherwell defender is expected to face St Mirren today before serving a one-match suspension but his manager cannot be certain that his absence will not become lasting.

"If [the board] get a good offer then Hutchy could go, but then again if they don't get a good offer then he will be here until the end of the season, if not longer," said McCall, whose side could move into third place in the SPFL Premiership with a win this afternoon. "There are always people showing interest but never anything [definitive]. We could have cashed in on Hutchy last year but the club has balanced it up with what it has given us since he's stayed.

"It might not be a call we have to make because we might not get an offer. It might be an offer we don't have to think about because the offer might be a good one. If we don't get an offer then we will just get on with it, but we are keeping our eyes and ears open for other loans if needs be."

It remains a curious truth of transfer speculation that a player will often try to step back from the attention while his team-mates fall over themselves to put him forward as being worthy of a big move. "He's got a good career ahead of him if he applies himself, which he does every day," said Stephen McManus, the Motherwell centre-half. "Shaun definitely has a big future in the game."

It is a little harder to predict just where Paul McGowan will end up, though, after the St Mirren forward this week admitted to attacking two police officers. The 26-year-old has scored twice this season but his part in that crime would seem to be a serious own goal, with sentence deferred until next month.

He will be disciplined by his club, too, although his manager is willing to give McGowan another chance. "You're not always just a coach to these guys, sometimes you are a father too," said Danny Lennon. "It's getting dealt with in January, but until then we will do everything we can to help. It's up to us to help guide him back on to the right track.

"He's not a bad lad. In fact he's a lovable wee character. He just loves playing football. Maybe that's how we calm him down - just put a ball at his feet and let him run about all day."

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