December 11, 2012
McCall banking on Cup run
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall hopes a lengthy William Hill Scottish Cup run can persuade some of his key players to stay at Fir Park.
McCall could face a major rebuilding project in the summer with the likes of Darren Randolph, Tom Hateley, Nicky Law, Chris Humphrey, Jamie Murphy and Michael Higdon coming to the end of their deals.
And he feels a replay victory over Aberdeen at Fir Park, which would set up a fifth-round clash at Hibernian, could help strengthen his hand.
McCall, who is in discussions with the club over his own contract, said: "Looking at the long picture, it would be fantastic if we could go as far as we can in the cup, do well in the league, and maybe use that as a carrot to try to keep some of the players.
"Nobody thought we could have kept Steve Jennings for another year (in 2011), everyone thought he was down south and gone but we managed to keep hold of him for another year.
"Hopefully that will be the same with two or three of the lads who everyone expects to leave.
"If a few of them leave, they will want to go out on a high. There is no better high than to play in the the last game of the season in a cup final.
"We're not looking too far ahead. Aberdeen are a very tough opponent to get over, and the winners go to Hibs, which is obviously another difficult game.
"But there is a sense in the squad that they want to do as well as they can.
"I sometimes find it, maybe not amazing, but some of the criticism the players get at times....Why people think we should be above other sides is beyond me when you look at the squad.
"These lads have been absolutely outstanding, the contribution over the last three or four years has been terrific.
"They give everything they have. Some days they might not be at their best, other days they can turn it on.
"I've got belief in them and I hope tomorrow the Motherwell fans turn out and get behind us.
"I'm sure the fans realise how big a game it is and we can do with a big following to roar us on.''
Darren Randolph will reclaim the goalkeeper's jersey for the replay after completing a two-match ban.
Motherwell have won and drawn with Lee Hollis deputising but manager Stuart McCall confirmed Randolph would start.
Defender Steven Saunders is the only absentee as he continues the final stages of his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
The Dons have twice scored last-gasp equalisers against Motherwell this season and their manager Craig Brown prepared his side for a penalty shoot-out as they bid to secure a trip to Hibernian in the fifth round.
"Maybe we are tempting fate but we will do some penalty kick practice in case it gets to that stage, because we have been unfortunate in penalty deciders here,'' he said.
"That is a distinct possibility in this fixture.
"I'm not a great believer in penalty practice but we'll have a look so the lads who are going to take them have some recent practice, but there's a big, big difference between a training ground penalty and a real penalty.
"It could be a long night and it could be competitive.''
But the former Motherwell manager added: "It could be an outstanding game of football because they play and we try to play.
"May the better team win on the night because we are very similar this season in everything.''
Aberdeen could have an unchanged squad for the clash.
Clark Robertson has the best chance of making a return from injury while Stephen Hughes is a "whisker'' away, but both could sit out again and Brown hopes that "one or two'' players who suffered knocks against Hearts on Saturday can recover.
Ryan Fraser, Ryan Jack, Rob Milsom, Chris Clark, Gary Naysmith and Isaac Osbourne remain out.