This is an excerpt from this week's Claret and Amber Alert, where Graeme McGarry assesses the importance of tying down recent Scotland cap Liam Kelly. To get our free Motherwell newsletter in your inbox every Thursday at 6pm, click here.

IT was great to see Liam Kelly and Harry Paton representing their countries at full international level for the first time during the break, with the keeper playing for Scotland in the first half of the defeat to France, and Paton getting game time in Canada’s friendly against Japan.

Not only will the experience of coming up against such a high standard of opposition help both players individually to improve, but their exposure at international level will also – to look at it in a slightly more cynical way – potentially bump up their value as assets to the club.

In Kelly’s case though, the chances of realising his full value to the club is hampered somewhat by his contract situation, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

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

The 27-year-old has had his ups and downs while at Fir Park. There is no doubt, for instance, that his form dipped considerably last season as the team collectively struggled in the latter stages of Steven Hammell’s reign at the club.

But on the whole, he has been a hugely successful signing for Motherwell, both for his abilities on the field as a keeper and for his leadership both on and off the pitch as club captain.

Even at the nadir of his Motherwell career, the abysmal Scottish Cup defeat to Raith Rovers that ended Hammell’s stint in charge and where he was culpable for at least one of the goals, it was Kelly who fronted up after the match and faced the media to address the concerns of the fans.

I was among the press that day at Stark’s Park, and there could be no doubting how much he was hurting at the predicament the club were then in. But he took on that responsibility, and along with the rest of the squad, followed up those words with actions when Stuart Kettlewell took over.

Kelly, like his teammates, was vastly improved towards the end of the season, and this term he is getting back close to the hugely impressive levels he showed when he first came to Fir Park from Queens Park Rangers.

He is clearly highly thought of within the game, with Scotland manager Steve Clarke not only picking him for squads on a regular basis, but trusting him to start Tuesday night’s match against Kylian Mbappe et al in Lille.

It's just a shame he didn’t manage to get a little more than his fingertips to the Paris Saint Germain superstar’s penalty kick, or his value may well have shot up even more. But the start for his country is not only an endorsement of his abilities from Clarke, but a signal to any potential suitors that he has the temperament to handle playing in such company.

All of which rather brings into focus the need for Motherwell to try to get Kelly tied down on a new contract as soon as is humanly possible.

There is no doubt Kelly loves life at the club. He has spoken more than once about how he has found a home at Fir Park. If he does sign a new deal, then Motherwell fans may feasibly be able to look forward to having a solid number one on the books for a number of years to come.

Realistically though, and perhaps more importantly, it would protect his value. Kelly is now a full Scotland international, who at 27, is theoretically coming into his peak years as a goalkeeper.

It would be something of a disaster on a purely financial level if such a sellable asset was allowed to walk out the door next summer for nothing.

READ MORE: Scotland player ratings as France show class in friendly

If the club have sounded him out about signing a new deal, and he is of a mind to explore other options – as is his right – then a big decision awaits in January. Do the club try to sell him on then, in mid-season, in order to at least generate a little money from his departure?

With Aston Oxborough looking solid enough in his runouts in the League Cup during the summer, that may be the time to cash in, providing there is interest out there.

Far preferable though would be a situation where Kelly signs a new deal, and if he does eventually move on, Motherwell can be recompensed for providing the platform that took him from the QPR bench to the Scotland squad.


I said last week we would look at the full-back options going into the St Johnstone game in this newsletter, but space has gone against us to explore the issue in any great depth.

For what it’s worth, I think Kettlewell will stick with Stephen O’Donnell on the right and Brodie Spencer on the left for the time being, with Georgie Gent perhaps not doing quite enough last time out at Livi to force a rethink.

His presence though, and the return of Pape Souare, puts pressure on the current starters, and that is always healthy.

No matter who plays, Motherwell simply need to avoid defeat to arrest the current slump, and I think they will do so despite the recent improvement from Saints. It might not be pretty, but I forecast a narrow, and welcome, Motherwell win.