Motherwell may have had a good result last weekend – but that didn’t ensure their survival in the Scottish Premiership according to manager Graham Alexander.
A 0-0 draw with St Mirren and a 2-0 win over Hibs, both away, in their last two matches has resulted in men of steel breathing space at the bottom. Alexander’s side are seven points clear of the relegation spots heading into the weekend’s game with Livingston at Fir Park.
But the safety target has not yet been reached according to the Motherwell manager: “We are certainly not out of the danger zone. I didn’t once mention the “top six” to anyone, I didn’t tell anyone about the other end, I was just talking about the next game, to my players and making sure we we were focusing on that.
“As soon as we focused on the next game, we took off a few weeks ago. Our first goal was to make sure we were a Premiership team, so we didn’t think of anything more, and we still are.
“I’ve always said that two games, three games, that won’t be enough to decide our season, it’s going to go through, and I don’t think that has changed. We didn’t think we were going to win every game, but we also hoped that we didn’t come and lose every game, and we did.
“We have certainly improved from the previous results, but not enough to drastically change the situation, so we have to keep working very hard. “
Injuries are a major problem for Alexander. Motherwell has a great squad, around 40 players in total, but many are injured. Captain Declan Gallagher returned last weekend against Hibs as winter signings Harry Smith, Eddie Nolan and Sam Foley are still missing.
Alexander says it’s been a problem, but Gallagher’s comeback is a boost: had.
“Unfortunately, probably four or five of those seven players were also injured, so it was very difficult to assess the whole squad because we didn’t have the whole squad – luckily I think, because he thinks training 40 – strange players would be very difficult.
“This is the one where I think we made good improvements on the results, which is the first port of call, and I think with what they have done so far, they have gained in confidence. There have been a few setbacks with the team, which I think the players reacted to well, which is good, but I don’t think we can sit here and assess the team until the end of the season. . , assess where we are and where we have ended.
“We have Declan and several others who haven’t been on the team and are fighting to be on the team. There were reasons Declan wasn’t on the squad, obviously because of his injury, but his reaction to training and the way he pushed himself to get in shape was superb. He is a seasoned and quality professional. We need him. It’s good to find him.
League One and Two will return this month after a suspension in early January. This means Motherwell’s Scottish Cup campaign will begin on April 3, starting with a third round draw against either Annan Athletic or Formartine United.
It could also allow some younger players to be loaned to lower leagues: “We’ve had a few inquiries this week so that will be a good thing for these guys. But what we need to make sure is to deal with Motherwell first and make sure we have players available to have a full squad.
“We’ve had several youngsters on our match day squad since I’ve been here, so we can’t deal with other clubs before we deal with ourselves. And these young players have the opportunity to show what they can do every day in training, as they train with and against top professionals.
“We have to organize games behind closed doors for the players who haven’t played, and we can’t let ourselves run out of those games either. So it’s a bit of a balancing act. We have to make sure that we take care of our own case and, if we have the opportunity to give these guys regular football, then we have to take a serious look at it.
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