Kettlewell welcomes injury returns in bid to arrest Motherwell’s form

Motherwell hope for their first win in 14 games when they face St Mirren.

Stuart Kettlewell welcomes injury returns in his bid to arrest Motherwell’s form SNS Group

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell has welcomed some increased options as he looks to end their 13-game run without a win when they face St Mirren.

Dan Casey has joined Lennon Miller and Pape Souare in being ruled out until after the winter break, but Calum Butcher and Paul McGinn could return from lay-offs in Paisley while Harry Paton has served his suspension.

“Dan Casey looks like a six to eight week injury, more the ankle ligaments than the fracture we first thought, but it’s obviously another pretty extensive injury,” Kettlewell said.

“I would be hopeful of Paul McGinn and Calum Butcher being there or thereabouts this weekend. We are going to have to assess them over the next couple of days.”

Kettlewell only had five experienced defenders and three midfielders to select from last Saturday, but first Premiership starts for Georgie Gent and Davor Zdravkovski also gave him encouragement.

“It is a process of months and weeks sometimes to bed guys into Scottish football and the surroundings and make sure they are up to standard,” Kettlewell said. “But those two were excellent against St Johnstone.

“Davor’s battling qualities in the middle of the park, being that disciplined one that sat in the middle and broke up play, we relied on that when we attacked that we still had that protection behind the ball, which was good.

“We have known Georgie has a terrific left foot and all kinds of quality. What impressed me most was his defensive actions early in the game against St Johnstone.

“He is a young lad, he is still learning aspects of the game. The one that comes most naturally to him is the offensive aspect and through time we have been working away to educate him and help him on the defensive aspect. I thought that was at a real good level for us on Saturday.

“That’s a welcome boost as well when you have another two players in there who look as if they are fully fit, fully functioning and playing with a degree of confidence.”

Kettlewell also feels he has a strong goalkeeper option in Aston Oxborough after Liam Kelly’s mistake gifted Saints the opener, but the manager issued his full confidence in his skipper.

Kettlewell said: “People want to latch on to the negatives. Does Liam believe he could have done better for the goal against St Johnstone and a goal against Ross County? Absolutely he would.

“But if you cast your mind back a couple of weeks, he was man of the match and celebrated at Celtic Park.

“I have full confidence and full belief in Liam Kelly. There’s a reason why he is an international goalkeeper, there’s a reason why he has had some real good spells at this football club and why he is the captain.

“It’s always highlighted for goalkeepers when people are down we love to kick them. I believe in him 100 per cent.

“But that’s not to detract from the fact that I believe we also have a good number two goalkeeper in Aston.

“The one thing Aston doesn’t have is match experience. He had some game time in the Viaplay Cup, but he has been limited outwith that.

“But we see every day he is pushing Liam and that he is in a position where we believe he could play in a Premiership game.

“In terms of selection I am quite clearly not going to say anything about that, but I believe we have two really good goalkeepers and we will work towards making the correct decision come Saturday.”

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