Motherwell manager Graham Alexander this week welcomed the noise of his door knocking from three players who wanted to know why they had been left out of his squad.
With a fully fit group other than midfielder Robbie Crawford, who has an ankle injury, Alexander has had some difficult decisions to make after assembling a squad featuring at least two players for every position.
Alexander found no room on the bench for last weekend’s defeat by Celtic for the likes of Connor Shields, Barry Maguire and Ricki Lamie, who set up the winner against Ross County weeks earlier and has not played since.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to face Dundee United, Alexander said: “I have had knocks on the door this week, which I wanted to be the case.
“When we were putting this squad together, I wanted the situation where I am having to leave out excellent players who I trust implicitly and value, because we have a squad full of good quality that can compete with each other, and that’s been the case.
“I am putting myself under pressure by trying to create that squad but I know over the course of the season that will help us.
“There is a healthy competition in the squad and they are fully respectful when they don’t get picked that there’s a good player in the team in front of them.
“I wanted them to knock on my door, I don’t go searching for them, but I want them to show that they care about being in the team.
“Since I have been here, I have never had any stand-up row with a player. There is a respect there where they put their best case forward, I give them my honest appraisal.
“Beat your drum, showcase what you are about, and take it from there, but it is about actions, how you train, how you play, not about what you say.”
Despite seeking the situation where he has to leave out good players, Alexander admits he finds it difficult.
“I have been in situations previously as a manager where it’s relatively easy to leave players out because they are not up to that level, but certainly this week when I am speaking to the three players that wanted to be involved, it was hard for me to actually justify my decisions in a big way,” he said.
“I am talking about small margins here, and looking at the opposition and how we wanted to play, and taking every scenario into account how we choose the bench.
“I know there were players outside our squad last week that could come straight into the starting team tomorrow and I’d be perfectly happy with that.
“It is hard. Some I brought to the club. Some have done brilliant jobs for me since I have been here. I still know they will contribute to our results going forward, but I still feel I am rejecting them when I name the team.
“I feel that but I know it’s my job and I would rather be in this situation than I have been before when we are scratching around for a team. That’s not a healthy situation.”
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