MOTHERWELL manager Stuart Kettlewell says that he would love to keep Scotland cap Liam Kelly at Fir Park, but he acknowledges factors such as finance may take the decision out of his hands.

The Motherwell keeper and captain got his first start for his country against the superstars of France during the week, with Kettlewell proud of his number one not only for the achievement, but also for his performance in Lille.

Kelly’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season, and Kettlewell knows his exposure at international level may bring him to the attention of potential suitors. But while he has made it clear to the 27-year-old that he wants him to stay at the club beyond the summer, there are a lot of hurdles to clear in order to extend his stay in Lanarkshire.

“It’s not anything we need to turn our attention to, sometimes there are external factors,” Kettlewell said.

“I think everyone will acknowledge I’m as proactive as anybody can be when it comes to players who are out of contract and guys that we want to keep.

READ MORE: Liam Kelly says Scotland debut was 'best moment' of his life

“The first obvious talking point is do you want to keep a player, and I think everyone will know what the answer is to that.

“The second part always comes down to the financial side of it. From that point of view, I’m very comfortable with the situation we find ourselves in between manager and player, we know where we stand.

“Liam understands what my focus would be and what my intention would be, but there’s other factors in our capabilities to extend deals and what that looks like.

“I know that’s pretty blunt, but I’m not saying anything that Liam or anyone else doesn’t know.

“The full intention from us is that we would love to keep the player. He’s our captain, he’s a talisman for us, but we’ll see how that situation moves on in the next few months and where it sits slightly further down the line.

“But yeah, it’s pretty evident there’s a few guys who are out of contract here, and we find ourselves trying to get to the point as early as we can to see if there’s something that can be done to extend some contracts where possible.

“But, as I say, sometimes there’s more than one factor involved in whether we can do that or whether it is achievable.”

Beyond the financial blow to Motherwell should they lose such a sellable asset for nothing, Kettlewell is in no doubt that Kelly’s absence from his squad would leave a massive hole to fill.

“It’s not just in what he does on the park, but you see him round about the place,” he said.

“He’s obsessed with football which I think is a great thing, he’s always picking our brains and asking one or two wee questions, whether that be for the defensive aspect or however that looks.

“But just as a person and a personality, I think that’s what you need sometimes, that glue to bring a dressing room together, and he’s been fantastic at that.

“I worked with Liam’s brother Sean for several years up at Ross County as well and you laugh, they are two very contrasting guys and it’s quite funny to think that they’re brothers.

“Not in a bad way, they are both really good guys and I like both of them, but Liam is very talkative and Sean is very quiet, so I think Liam has always maybe done Sean’s talking for him!

“He has a brilliant impact and a brilliant influence around this place.

“I think Liam would be a brilliant influence [for Scotland too] even though he’s been a part of a group of three goalies and one that is not starting, but I know the person and I know he wants to go out there at the top level and show people what he is capable of.

“Either way, he comes back in here as a better goalkeeper and perhaps a better person for the experience.”

The flip side of the exposure his players are getting at international level for Kettlewell is that it can be used as a recruitment tool, with the platform Motherwell can offer for players to improve and reach such a level a major selling point.

“It’s something I remember from when I was younger and even speaking to my dad and whatnot, you always talk about as soon as someone becomes an international player then their profile and their worth or value goes up,” he said.

“I don’t think that formula has changed. I look at Brodie Spencer back into the Northern Ireland squad – albeit he is a loan player here – Harry Paton getting his first cap for Canada, Liam getting his first cap, I think it does take them to that next level in how we perceive them.

“But I also look at another factor with someone I’ve got a bit of affection for and an affinity with in Max Johnston, making that jump from the under-21s into the senior squad.

“I just think it’s a brilliant story for us all round. I think these guys are getting that recognition because of their level of performance here.

“But also, I think it also shows one or two others that they aren’t too far away from it. If they can maintain that constant in their level of performance, then I think they give themselves a great chance to go and push personal boundaries.

“I always speak about boundaries for us as a football club and where we can be, but I’ve been really happy to see the number of guys who are going out the building.

“I think the ideal scenario is that you work with players, you hopefully develop them, and then you sell them for a lot of money if you are a club like Motherwell.

“They get international recognition in amongst that which maybe raises their value, then that conveyor belt starts again.

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“I’ve always said it’s nothing that fazes me or ever gives me sleepless nights, I look at it the complete opposite way.

“If that’s the kind of narrative and type of story with individuals or groups of players, I think we must be doing something right here, and the job then becomes how do you flip that and keep that wheel turning?

“It’s always been something I see as a major positive for the football club.”

Back on domestic matters, Kettlewell has been pleased to see his injury woes lessen over the international break, with a key player in Calum Butcher perhaps being ready to bolster his squad for the trip to face St Johnstone tomorrow.

“We had Calum Butcher training fully on Monday, which was a real boost to us after the length of time he’s been out,” he said.

“We knew how long he was going to be out for following that landing from a header on the astroturf pitch at Livingston, which obviously wasn’t ideal at the time for someone who was performing so well for us.

“He was a standout player for us, he was exceptional on that run we found ourselves on, so we’re delighted to get him back into full training.

“He’s been out a long time, so we need to be wary of that little bit of a lull, but I was blown away by the levels at which he trained on Monday and Tuesday, which is great for being so long out.

“I’m hopeful that if everything goes to plan in the next couple of days we can potentially involve him in our group.

“It would be a massive ask to see if we can get him starting a game of football this week or maybe in the coming weeks, but he’s edging much closer to that.

“Mika Biereth, we hope to have back into full training here [next Thursday] as well, which is great for us, and Jon Obika isn’t too far away from that either.

“That’s the three that remain out, and there are positive shoots of them getting back in amongst it.”