Surprise Results Ahead
The title may be decided but there is still much to play for in the SPL
Motherwell's Stuart McCall wants to help ease the pressure on his players as they head into the final five games of the SPL season. The Fir Park side are five points ahead of their nearest rivals in third place ahead of Celtic's visit on Sunday. However, that lead will be cut before kick-off time as nearest challengers St Johnstone and Dundee United meet at McDiarmid Park today. With Rangers unable to meet criteria for a UEFA club licence, third place will secure entry to the Champions League third qualifying round. Motherwell have been in the top three all season so expectations are high while they sit above of Saints, United, who are six points behind, and Hearts, a further point back. McCall said: "It's going to be an exciting time for supporters but it's going to be really tense. They are probably not going to get the high-quality games we had at the beginning of the season because the pitches are drying up and bumpy and because of the tension and the pressure, and players will be playing with an edge. But it's our job to take that pressure off the players to play with that confidence and freedom. Even with that big carrot at the end we have to try to play with freedom, confidence and relaxation. But I think pitches will play a part. I was up at St Johnstone-Inverness before the split and it wasn't the greatest of games for a few reasons." McCall has welcomed back Stevie Hammell and Steve Jennings from suspension but loses Jonathan Page and Keith Lasley for the same reason. Celtic's team selection will be more unpredictable as they have won the only prize they can this season in the SPL title. McCall feels the absence of a title race, coupled with the fact the four teams outside the Old Firm are all chasing at least three European places, could mean some surprise results in the run-in. He said: "It's going to be so difficult to predict games. Last season everyone knew Rangers would win that and Celtic would win that one. This season there is so much to play for one week clubs can be up on a high and the other week can be down again."
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