RETURNING to Fir Park will always be difficult for David Clarkson.

He will line up for Dundee today having scored twice in two matches, determined to make that three in three, but before he walks out on to the pitch he might have a look around at some of the pictures on the walls.

Clarkson is back at the Lanarkshire club for his first competitive game since playing for Motherwell between 2002 and 2009, during which he witnessed the death of his uncle Phil O'Donnell of heart failure in December 2007 while playing in a league game against Dundee United.

Clarkson, who went on to wear O'Donnell's No.10 jersey the following season, will have more than the match on his mind. "It's obviously hard not to think of Phil," he said. "There are pictures of him up on the wall which I saw when I was back in the summer. There are other things around the stadium and the stand also is dedicated to him.

"But it's nothing new that I think about him. I think about him a lot of the time. Going back and not being with Motherwell will probably be a bit different. Hopefully, though, I can go there and do well as an individual and as part of the team."

Stuart McCall, the Motherwell manager, also indulged in a reflection on Clarkson's return. The striker trained with the squad in the summer and even went on their pre-season trip abroad, but McCall chose not to offer him a deal. "We were open with him," McCall explained. "He's been playing midfield a lot for a couple of seasons and just off the front, and we wanted an out-and-out striker.

"We have John Sutton, Bob McHugh, Lee Erwin and Craig Moore who like to come towards the game. He believed he could have done that for us but in the end it was amicable. He just wasn't the right type of striker. Maybe if we hadn't had a couple we might have had a go at signing him."

He might yet come to regret that decision. Motherwell have only scored five goals this season, whereas Clarkson has settled back quickly into his rhythm in Scotland. But he is not sure yet if he would celebrate should he add to his tally against his old club today. "I think I've just got to take it like any other game," he said.

"If you treat it differently or get hyped up about it, you could end up probably not at your best. I think it's up to the individual whether they celebrate scoring or not when they go back to a former club. It's maybe not good to rub it in their face if you score, especially if you have enjoyed it there. I had so many good times there. I think sometimes it's a mark of respect if you don't, but it's down to how you feel at the moment.

"Players can say umpteen times they won't celebrate but then the moment just takes over them."

McCall spoke enthusiastically about the effect travelling with Scotland and Gordon Strachan is having on his management skills. It was good to get away and feel refreshed on his return, he said. He admitted he had learned little tactical tricks from the Scotland manager - "I've used them in my time here" - and that Strachan, too, was always happy to give out a little bit of advice. "He's very good," said McCall. "Gordon's been there. They [Celtic] got beaten against Clyde in the cup, they got beaten five in Europe in his first game, there are highs and lows. He'll mention certain things that have happened to him.

"You've just got to make the best of what you can, have belief in yourself, your players and your staff. When things aren't going well you just need to knuckle down and get on with it."

More worrying is that several of his players have been struck down by sickness. He would not reveal their identities but admitted that two or three key players would not make the squad this afternoon. "It's not sweeping through the club, it's not a crisis," he said. "But we've two or three lads who will miss out through illness. One of them might be on the bench. And unfortunately a couple of lads have picked up injuries this week.

"But we have a big enough squad to go out there. Everyone knows jerseys are up for grabs because we've not had a level of performance, individually or collectively, that can see people say 'yes, I'm going to be a regular', unlike previous seasons. It's about character, you've just got to dig in and go out to be the best you can be."