SUCCESS on the field for clubs like Motherwell has always been something of a double-edged sword for their supporters. The better they do, the more that bigger clubs with deeper pockets circle Fir Park to pick off their best talent.

That is as true for their staff as it is for their players, so it was perhaps unsurprising that manager Stephen Robinson was the early frontrunner to take over at Hearts this week after the sacking of Craig Levein.

As he spoke on the eve of today’s game against Livingston, Robinson insisted that cementing Motherwell’s third-place position with a win over the visitors was the only thing on his mind, as he brushed off – if not entirely dismissed - speculation linking him with a move to Tynecastle.

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“The case today is I’m solely concentrating on Motherwell v Livingston and we need a win against a very difficult opponent,” Robinson said.

“Motherwell is my priority and we’ve got a huge game tomorrow.”

Having sold the club to countless players on the basis that it is a wonderful platform to be noticed, Robinson must know though it is inevitable that he too would be drawing admiring glances?

“Possibly, but as I’ve said I’m just concentrating on the game tomorrow and that’s my sole focus,” he said.

“I’m trying to make sure we are still third going into a really tough game at Celtic. That’s my sole concentration.

“I think the players are doing something very right. I’ll pick the team, but the players have to go and do that.

“So, it’s credit to them where we are sitting in the league and we have to try and cement that against Livingston.”

Inside the Fir Park dressing room, the players are hoping that the speculation around their manager comes to nought. Jake Carroll spoke on their behalf yesterday as he lauded Robinson and the job he has done at the club.

“I can only speak from working with him for a few months now, but he’s been brilliant for me personally,” Carroll said.

“He’s pushed me on, he’s improved my game both going forward and defensively.

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“He’s been here for a few years now and he’s improved Motherwell massively. He’s a good manager.

“I can’t comment on the speculation, I’m just focusing on the Livingston game and all I can say is that I enjoy working with him.

“It’s a compliment if other clubs are looking at him, and there are players here that other clubs will be looking at too.

“It’s a club that has had a lot of players leave in the past and go to a higher level, that’s just normal.

“There’s a lot of young players here who will be looking to push their careers on, and we’re flying here at Motherwell just now, the whole club.

“The manager, the players, we’re all flying and that’s what we’re focusing on at the moment. We’re happy just to be working hard and doing well.”

On a personal level, Carroll is hoping to knit together a run of games after a frustrating start to his Motherwell career.

The left-back felt harshly done by when picking up a retrospective red card after the opening day game at the home of today’s opponents, while another dismissal against Ross County has resulted in him missing more games.

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He admits he has been shocked by the strictness of officials in Scotland since returning north in the summer.

“I was very surprised (to be punished after Livingston), I didn’t know that was a thing,” he said.

“It was a strange one, I didn’t know you could upgrade a yellow to a red.

“It was a 50/50, the ball was there to be won, so I had to go for it.

“To get a red card after that and then to get the two yellows against Ross County after that, I think I’ve been unlucky with suspensions. It’s been so stop-start. Some of it has been my fault, some of it hasn’t.

“I’m looking to just get two or three games in a row to cement my place, rather than just two games here or there.

“I think I expected coming up here to maybe get away with a bit more in terms of physicality. The Scots are like the Irish, they don’t mind a tackle, but I’ve been a bit surprised by the refs. They can be a bit temperamental and you don’t know what they are going to do at times."