Motherwell V Partick at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview

14 February 2014 04:01
Motherwell V Partick - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Well struggling with injuries

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall's injury problems have worsened despite a three-week gap between their last game and Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash with Partick Thistle.

Craig Moore is out for three weeks with a cracked rib while goalkeeper Lee Hollis suffered a muscle strain as he made his comeback from a four-month lay-off with an ankle injury for the Under-20s.

Simon Ramsden and Lee Erwin both remain on the sidelines with knee injuries while Iain Vigurs (foot) is a doubt again and McCall has several more concerns over players who have just returned to training following knocks.

Meanwhile, forward James McFadden is not interested in winning praise - just aiming for another second-placed finish.

Well were seconds away from leapfrogging Aberdeen into second spot in the Scottish Premiership on their last outing until Russell Anderson scored a controversial equaliser.

Since then Aberdeen have reached the League Cup final and knocked Celtic out of the William Hill Scottish Cup, hitting headlines which previously focused on a Dundee United side who were lauded during a six-match winning run before Christmas.

Motherwell matched that feat last month and McFadden feels they have every chance of finishing closest to Celtic again.

"We are above Dundee United and we are just below Aberdeen, so we are as good as them, and obviously we finished second last year, so we need to be aiming for that again," McFadden said ahead of Saturday's visit of Partick.

"We are quite happy to go about our business, win six games in a row and get hardly any credit for it. That's fine by us, we will keep digging in and keep trying to win every game.

"We expect to be up there and don't want any praise for doing well. We know what we want to do. Obviously Celtic are going to walk the league but no team has achieved anything yet."

Motherwell's previous game against Thistle sparked McFadden's rejuvenation. The Scotland forward scored his first league goal of the season, hit the bar and was a constant menace in a 5-1 win at Firhill.

The 30-year-old had previously failed to hit the heights of the run-in last term, when he notched five goals in the last eight games from a wide-left position. But he has been happy in recent weeks supporting John Sutton up front.

"It was probably a wee bit of a turning point for me this season and performances have been better since," he said.

"I think I'm suited better to playing through the middle. I can probably have more of an effect on the game.

"I have enjoyed it and the team has been playing well, and we have been getting some decent results."

Partick goalkeeper Scott Fox is pushing Paul Gallacher for the gloves after missing two games through injury.

Winger Chris Erskine returns to the squad after missing the draw with Dundee United under the terms of his loan move. Long-term absentees Isaac Osbourne (ankle) and Sean Welsh (groin) miss out again.

Kallum Higginbotham believes Lee Mair's experience can give Thistle the platform to move up the table.

Second-bottom Thistle have only lost three goals and one game during the four matches the 33-year-old defender has played since moving from St Mirren.

None of Alan Archibald's other regular defenders are aged over 24 and Higginbotham feels Mair's knowledge and composure at the back can help the likes of Conrad Balatoni.

Higginbotham, who returns to former club Motherwell on Saturday, said: "Mairzo has been really good since he came in, I think he has shored up the back line. So hopefully, as the season goes on, he can form a good partnership with Conrad and start giving us some clean sheets."

Thistle had only kept three clean sheets this season before Mair's arrival and a number of dominant performances have been undermined by failure to convert chances as well as some individual errors.

Higginbotham said: "You can never blame it on age because if you are good enough you are old enough. But since Mairzo has come in, he has got a lot of experience at the back and he has formed a good partnership with Conrad, and it seems to be working.

"He is very vocal. You can see that in training as well. If you have got someone speaking next to you, like Mairzo is doing with Conrad, then it obviously helps. And that has shown in the last few games.

"It's always good to have a couple of older heads in the team and that's what the gaffer has done."

Source: PA