This piece is an extract from yesterday's Claret and Amber Alert newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Thursday. To receive our full, free Motherwell newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

A question you will regularly hear put to managers prior to an international break is whether or not it is coming at a good time.

The response is usually in the negative, no matter the preceding result. It is frustrating when you win because you want to keep the momentum going, but frustrating when you lose as you want to get it out of your system quickly.

Sifting through the clichés, one thing that can be said for certain is that the advantage the stalling of club hostilities offers is some time to get injured players back into the fold, and in that regard for Motherwell, this particular break could have arrived at a perfect juncture.

READ MORE: Livingston 2 Motherwell 0: Early red card hinders Steelmen

The Steelmen have now lost four matches in a row. The disappointment at the outcome of the three games prior to Saturday’s desperately poor defeat at Livingston was at least salved somewhat by the level of performance, but the same certainly couldn’t be said for the slop served up at the Tony Macaroni.

There were mitigating factors, of course. Lennon Miller’s red card chief among them. I’m still unsure, incidentally, if any contact was actually made with the heels of Daniel McKay, but there is a lesson for the youngster within the incident in any case.

Watching the highlights back on Sportscene, commentator Rob MacLean remarked that ‘Miller’s reaction tells you all you need to know’, as if a player has never attempted to deceive a referee.

But had Lennon vehemently protested his innocence given it was such a contentious incident with such momentous consequences, that might at least have placed a seed of doubt in the minds of Don Robertson and the VAR team and persuaded them to have a closer look.

As it was, his meek acceptance of the red card was taken as proof positive that the right decision had been made. But even after reviewing the replays numerous times, I’m still not so sure.

One call Motherwell cannot argue with is the decision to award a penalty against Bevis Mugabi for his wild swipe at James Penrice, the subsequent conversion of which killed the game stone dead.

What was the big man thinking? Penrice was on the verge of losing control of the ball and was posing minimal danger to the Motherwell goal. The challenge was rash, bordering on bonkers. And it has to be said, he has such moments in him.

READ MORE: Harry Paton thanks Motherwell boss as Canada cap off revival

In fairness to Mugabi, he has performed well at times this season. He was immense in the win at Tynecastle, and as long as he is being asked simply to defend and not to stretch his capabilities too much by passing the ball out from the back, he can be a useful stand-in alongside Paul McGinn and Dan Casey.

The sooner though that the back three which steadied the ship in the second half of last season under Stuart Kettlewell is available, the better. And hopefully Calum Butcher will emerge at McDiarmid Park after the break to reclaim his place at the heart of the defence.

No harm to Mugabi, who is something of a cult hero at Fir Park for his wholehearted approach, but his rashness has cost the side on occasion and there is now little sense of the defensive cohesion present prior to Butcher’s injury.

Motherwell may have only lost nine goals in seven league games this season, but they have also only kept one clean sheet. When the forwards are hardly banging the goals, that has proven costly, with single-goal defeats to St Mirren, Celtic and Rangers already this term.

In contrast, Motherwell kept six clean sheets in the 14 matches that followed Kettlewell’s appointment to the end of last season.

As for the forwards, ‘Well fans will hope that Mika Biereth is also involved in some capacity in Perth, but the absence of Miller in the midfield may also allow Kettlewell to think about playing two up top.

Conor Wilkinson is fully fit again, and though Theo Bair is trying valiantly to offer something in attack, he would surely welcome some help up there. Bair is looking isolated, and is already becoming something of a lightning rod for any criticism that is being aimed at the team over this run of losses.

The other big selection issue is in the wing-back position, which we will take a closer look at next week as we build up to the St Johnstone game.

For now, let us all enjoy the break from this downturn in form and fortunes, and hope that things can get back on track in Perth.

AND ANOTHER THING… Just finally, a note of congratulation has to go to Harry Paton, who has been rewarded for his fine individual run of form with a call-up to the Canada squad for Friday’s friendly against Japan.

I can’t have been alone in being slightly underwhelmed by his signing, but since he turned the game against Kilmarnock, he has been a standout performer.

Fingers crossed his hard work is rewarded with his first cap tomorrow.