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Motherwell V St Johnstone at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview

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02 May 2014 15:31:00

Motherwell V St Johnstone at Fir Park Stadium : Match Preview

Motherwell V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


McCall wants determination

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall has urged his players to show belief that they can repeat three victories that could clinch second place in the Scottish Premiership.


The Lanarkshire side are four points off Aberdeen but, with the Dons facing tough trips to Celtic Park and Tannadice, Motherwell know that consecutive home wins over St Johnstone and Inverness could set them up for a final-day decider at Pittodrie.


McCall said: "We are not going to ask them to do anything we have not done before. We beat St Johnstone out here 4-0 and played really well.


"We then play Inverness, we beat them here and played well, and we have also been to Pittodrie and won this season.


"It's a big ask to win them all but it's not beyond the realms of possibility. We have to take it a game at a time and whoever goes out there on Saturday will go out there determined to get three points."


McCall knows there is no chance of Saints slacking off ahead of their William Hill Scottish Cup final date with Dundee United.


The Perth side are unbeaten in seven games and have taken 10 points from their last four away matches.


"We're against the in-form side in St Johnstone," said McCall, whose side lost 5-1 at Tannadice last weekend. "Everyone is in there playing for cup final places.


"The likes of (Sean) Dillon and (Ryan) Dow, who are sort of on the fringes for United, those two were probably United's best players in a really good team performance.


"So I'm sure St Johnstone will have lads who are maybe not sure they will be in the cup final side who will be desperate to play for a place.


"It won't be a case of them taking their foot off the gas - they have proved that in the last few weeks."


Motherwell have an unchanged squad.


James McFadden could come into the team after staying on the bench at Tannadice last week having recovered from a hamstring injury.


Midfielders Paul Lawson (Achilles) and Stuart Carswell (knee) and defender Simon Ramsden (knee) remain on the sidelines following surgery.


St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus is looking to keep their recent form going at a ground which hosted one of his most difficult afternoons between the posts.


Saints travel to Fir Park looking to atone for a 4-0 defeat on New Year's Day, although they have comfortably beaten Motherwell twice at home this season.


Saints have taken 10 Scottish Premiership points from their last four away games, more than they had done in the previous 13, and Mannus wants to make amends.


"They hammered us, it wasn't a good day for us at all," the Northern Ireland international said. "To concede so many goals and be dominated so much, it was probably as one-sided a game as I have been involved in.


"So hopefully we can put in a better performance. We have been doing well recently and we need to keep that run going.


"It gives confidence and it's good to be in a routine where you are playing well and getting results.


"Motherwell are a top team, up there fighting for second place as well, so it will be a strong test for us. We have shown we can do well against them at home but we need to do it away now."


Saints' form is coming at the right time - they are unbeaten in seven games with three weeks left until their William Hill Scottish Cup final against Dundee United.


But Mannus said: "I haven't really thought about the final and I'm sure the other players haven't. I haven't thought past Saturday because it's important to do well for lots of reasons - to get as many points as we can and finish as high up the league as possible."


The former Shamrock Rovers and Linfield player has had practice at shutting out thoughts of upcoming finals during his time in his home island.


However, he said: "People here don't really care too much about what I've done over there, or what anyone has done in Ireland and Northern Ireland.


"From my point of view, I have been in that position I guess before, and that's all we did then as well, always kept looking at each game as it came along, and not bother too much about a game two weeks down the line until we get there."


St Johnstone welcome Gary McDonald and Michael O'Halloran back into the fold.


McDonald has been out for several weeks with a knee injury while O'Halloran missed last weekend's 1-1 draw with Aberdeen.


Long-term injury victims Tam Scobbie (ankle) and Murray Davidson (knee) remain out.



PA

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