Motherwell V Hearts at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview
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Hammell sidelined for Hearts clash
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall has ordered his side to cut out the defensive blunders - despite losing another of his back four to injury.
Left-back Steven Hammell has dropped out of the squad to face Scottish Premiership bottom club Hearts after straining his hamstring during Motherwell's 3-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Tuesday.
Motherwell lost 3-1 to Dundee United four days earlier and McCall's injury list has grown further after Estonia striker Henri Anier was told to rest his shin injury, ruling him out of Saturday's game and an international friendly against Gibraltar next Wednesday.
McCall said: "It's not actually shin-splints, he has deep bone-bruising, so he needs complete rest. So he won't be going away with his national team. Whether it will take a week or three weeks, we don't really know.
"Hammy has strained his hamstring. It's only a grade one so it's still doubtful he will be ready for Hibs next weekend but hopefully not too long.
"There are a couple of players who would probably benefit from being pulled out the side because they are carrying little niggles and strains. It has probably affected their form but it is what it is.
"We only had seven training on Thursday, JP (physio John Porteous) says it's one of the worst injury lists he has had, but that's part and parcel of football.
"What we have to do, regardless of who is out, we have certainly got to defend better than the last two games.
"Out of the six goals, you would say five and possibly all six, have come from defensive frailty from ourselves. So we have to cut that out.
"Obviously we have had a dip in form but when you give goals away, that can affect the side. We need lads to get back to the form they were showing two or three weeks ago, when a lot of them were on top of their game."
Hammell joins fellow full-backs Simon Ramsden and Fraser Kerr on the injury list while centre-back Adam Cummins was loaned to Dundee in January. That shortage forced McCall to bring in former Morton player Craig Reid on the day of the Tannadice visit
"We have had to plunge him in there but he played 90 minutes on Tuesday having not played since December 28," McCall said.
"He was a bit stiff afterwards but he was one of our better players against St Johnstone. It's an opportunity and it's up to him to grab it."
Reid is determined to do so having failed to win a deal at Motherwell in the summer when the signing of Stephen McManus put an end to his trial spell.
He returned to Greenock for a second season instead but left the club in January as Kenny Shiels rebuilt his squad.
"I was a player of the year at Morton, we finished second, and I was offered a new contract," said Reid.
"I could have taken that contract and had money through the summer. But I believe in my own ability and I wanted to play at the top.
"It's not about money for me, it's the hunger to try to play at the highest level. I have got that chance now. Hopefully I can help the team and we can get results."
Hearts midfielder Jason Holt is a doubt for the clash after having a minor reaction to his recovery from a broken foot against Celtic last weekend.
The visitors will also be without Callum Tapping. The midfielder scored in Hearts' Under-20s 1-1 draw with Rangers on Wednesday but this weekend's game is likely to come too soon for his first-team return.
David Smith (knee) and Jamie Walker (foot) remain long-term absentees but Paul McCallum has brushed off a foot knock.
Billy King believes the bond shared by the youngsters in the Hearts first team has made this traumatic season easier to deal with.
The attacker is one of 13 Under-21 players to have started for the Jambos this season while the future of the club, placed in administration in the summer, has hung in the balance.
They could easily cite the ongoing saga as a distraction to the team. Instead, King insists it is a problem that the players never discuss.
"We don't talk about the off-the-field stuff," King said. "We just concentrate on each game."
"It's been better that we've all come through together because we've got a good bond. We've always played together in youth teams. We know what we're like on the park and we get on off the park. It's set us well."
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