McCall: Locke will do what he can
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall would never write off former Bradford team-mate Gary Locke's chances of achieving the great escape with Hearts.
And McCall knows the young Hearts team have the ability and spirit to bounce back from their defeat by then nearest rivals St Mirren when they turn out at Fir Park on Saturday.
Hearts are 10 points adrift at the foot of the Scottish Premiership but defied the odds with several unlikely results earlier in the season, which they began with a 15-point deduction for going into administration.
So the Well boss will urge his players to put Locke's side under pressure from the off as they bid to record a fourth consecutive home win.
McCall said: "I used to take him to training every day. He never gave me a penny for petrol.
"Billy Brown was there as well and Lockey was on the pro-licence course I was on a couple of years back. He's a really good lad and obviously a Hearts man.
"He will be doing everything in his power, as will Billy, to try to get him out of that bottom spot.
"They have the length of the season and with the backing they have got, you couldn't say that they wouldn't be able to do it because a couple of results can change things.
"It's certainly a hard ask for them and, outwith when they play us, I would like to see them do well because you feel for the supporters and feel for everyone at the club because of what they have been through."
McCall added: "They have to rely on youngsters week in, week out which can be difficult and can be hard on them.
"You are likely to get inconsistency but they are more than capable of putting in a performance like they did against Aberdeen or Hibs and winning the game.
"So we want to make sure we get that first goal and really try to go form there and not give the young lads any sort of hope.
"But it's a tough game on their own merit because they will be desperate and will have a big backing."
Motherwell will make a B#1 donation to the Foundation of Hearts, the fans' group in position to take control of the club, for every supporter that pays into the visitors' stand.
McCall said: "Their support has been outstanding and their victories they have had, Edinburgh derby and Aberdeen, were big games.
"I certainly think they have not got what they deserved when you look at the points tally. A lot of big decisions have gone against them and they have got to feel hard done by."
Meanwhile, striker Henri Anier admits he would like to stay at Fir Park when his loan deal from Viking Stavanger ends in January.
The Estonia striker, who has netted four goals this season, said: "I don't know much about it yet myself. It's between the clubs and we'lls ee what happens. It's still early.
"I'm really enjoying my time and I really hope I can stay further, until the end of the season at least."
James McFadden is out of the clash and fellow winger Lionel Ainsworth is a doubt.
McFadden has a hamstring tear and will be out for another week while Ainsworth also has a hamstring problem and faces a late assessment.
Estonia striker Henri Anier has returned fully fit after playing 45 minutes against Romania in midweek.
Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson admits he is in no position to criticise team-mate Scott Robertson after he was forced to apologise to boss Locke - because he has done enough "stupid things" himself.
Midfielder Robinson had to say sorry to his Tynecastle manager after claiming he was being "picked on" by Locke when he was substituted at half-time in the 2-0 defeat to St Mirren a fortnight ago.
The frustrated 21-year-old - who was also replaced at the break against Dundee United a week earlier - retracted his statement and claimed it was made in the heat of the moment.
Locke has already drawn a line under the incident and has included Robinson in his squad, which has no injuries or suspensions, for Saturday's Scottish Premiership trip to Motherwell.
But Stevenson - fined B#1,500 and banned from driving for 20 months earlier this year after being caught three times over the legal drink driving limit - also gave the player his backing as he admitted it was easy to stray off the straight and narrow.
The former Scotland squad member said: "Everyone in the heat of the moment says stuff they they probably don't realise the full effects of and that's what Scott did.
"A couple of days after he has realised he was probably out of line. At the end of the day, I've done a lot of stupid things in my life so I know exactly how easy it is to do these things.
"He's a passionate boy and he will learn from it. We look at Scott as one of the older boys in the team but he's still only 21. I'm sure he will move on from it. All the boys have and there is no ill-feelings.
"No one likes getting brought off at half-time. Ask any player, it's not a nice feeling.
"But the one thing you can be sure with Scott is that he will give 110 per cent."
Stevenson made his return from injury against the Buddies after a knee injury sustained in August's Edinburgh derby win against Hibernian ruled him out for six weeks.