Motherwell V Celtic at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview
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McCall aims to defy the odds
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall admits his side will have to defy the odds to qualify for Europe - but he knows his players expect nothing less.
McCall's injury-hit squad face Scottish Premiership champions Celtic on Saturday without the likes of James McFadden, Stuart Carswell, Simon Ramsden, Lee Hollis, Paul Lawson and the suspended Keith Lasley.
A top-three finish would secure European football for Motherwell but their six-point lead over fourth-placed Dundee United is not as secure as it might seem given they travel to Tannadice following their tussle with the champions.
McCall said of the prospect of a third consecutive European adventure: "It certainly will be against the odds this season with the things we've had. Nobody expects too much from us but we expect it from ourselves.
"I keep saying we've got a good group in there. We've got to make sure we finish it off. It's no good talking about what you've done up to the split, it's what you do at the end of the season that counts.
"If we can bring European football back to Fir Park next season, even if it is on July 3, then we will happily take it."
Among McCall's fit players is Craig Reid, who will be making his first appearance against Celtic since leaving the Parkhead club for Queen of the South.
Reid missed Morton's League Cup win at Parkhead in September after leaving the Greenock club for a spell in a bid to sign for Motherwell last summer.
The 28-year-old, who eventually signed at Fir Park in February, said: "I re-signed in October so I was back there a couple of weeks after that game.
"The boys were all talking about the Celtic game and that's one that will live in their history for a long time. It's football, anything can happen.
"I see it as just another game, we have five big games now to finish and I wouldn't put any more significance on it being Celtic."
Motherwell have finished it off in the past two seasons, getting the results needed to seal a Champions League spot and then second place quickly after the split. And McCall's approach to the last five games is simple.
"Just focus on one game, I know it's the old spiel," he said. "It would be nice to have two or three players back for the last few games.
"In my time here, we've been lucky with injuries, this year it has just gone against us. We have been hit hard but it's great credit to the players where they have got to.
"We have five games and we have to give everything we have got.
"Most people would expect Celtic to win but it would be a massive boost if we can win.
"I think we possibly might have to win our last three games. We believe we can be in that top three, we just have to go out and prove it."
Champions Celtic were convincing 2-0 winners over William Hill Scottish Cup finalists Dundee United at Tannadice in their last outing.
Manager Neil Lennon is expecting the same attitude against the Steelmen as they look to end the season in style by reaching a century of points.
"We will adopt the same attitude," he said. "We want to finish the season strongly. Individual players have targets and we as a team have targets but the be all and end all is to keep this run going.
"We have had one defeat in 33 (league) games so we would like to finish the season with just the one defeat.
"Motherwell are a good side with a good manager and Fir Park is always a good venue."
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