Motherwell boss confident of goal threat despite Van Veen injury

Graham Alexander says there are players throughout his team who are capable of scoring.

Motherwell boss Graham Alexander confident of goal threat despite Kevin van Veen injury SNS Group

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander says his side won’t lack attacking threat when they face Sligo Rovers in the Europa Conference League qualifying, despite striker Kevin van Veen being a major injury doubt.

The Dutch forward has missed training ahead of Thursday’s match after receiving a knock, and Alexander says it would be a “bonus” if Van Veen was available.

With Kaiyne Woolery, Jordan Roberts and Justin Amaluzor all having left the club in the summer, Motherwell are a little light in attack but Alexander says he has no concern about his side scoring the goals they need in the qualifying tie.

“We have lost a couple of players but, not being disrespectful, we were comfortable with certain players moving on, because we felt we needed to trim the squad and redefine it a little bit,” he said.

“We have only brought three players in so far – Paul McGinn, Blair Spittal and Josh Morris – but these are proven performers.

“Blair Spittal and Josh Morris are proven attacking midfielders who can score goals. Josh has scored goals in the previous two times that I managed him and Blair Spittal had a good goalscoring season last season.

“It’s not a case of replacing like for like, different players and different attributes, but certainly proven goalscorers.

“We feel we have other players in the squad, people like Connor Shields, Joe Efford, Ross Tierney, Callum Slattery, Sean Goss, where we expect them to improve on their goalscoring from last season, and they have the ability to do that. So we have to give them the opportunities to prove that’s the case.

“I’m confident we have enough goalscoring threats in our squad to score the amount of goals that we did last season. If you took away penalties, we were the fourth-top goalscorers in the league.

“The improvements we feel we have to make are on the defensive side of it and not concede as many goals as we did. We have done a lot of work on that. I feel we have the players that can help us improve that aspect.

“I feel we have the players to win games now but we are always on the lookout to try and improve the squad.”

Thursday’s match at Fir Park is the first competitive outing of the new season for Motherwell, who have played two warm-up games, while Sligo Rovers are deep into the league season and have won three of their last four games.

Alexander says match sharpness could be a factor in the Irish side’s favour but said his players can step up to a challenge.

“Certainly at the start of the season your freshness can be an advantage, or being in your stride can be an advantage,” he said.

“What we have got to do is focus on how we prepare and not getting any excuses ready. We are ready to go into a game of football, we are physically ready and tactically ready. Mentally the players are ready for this challenge.

“Sligo are a good footballing team, they can be expansive, they have got the right players in the right positions to be a successful team.

“The harder the challenge for us, I think the better we perform. We are expecting a tough game but the biggest aim for us is to make sure they have a tough game.”