Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell 'hangs his hat' on Theo Bair success

The Canada international has been signed to help replace Kevin van Veen,

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell has backed striker Theo Bair to be a success at the club and says his new signing can add quality to his team.

Bair signed a two-year contract with the Fir Park club earlier this week and is in the squad for Motherwell’s Premiership opener away at Dundee on Saturday.

The forward, who has one international cap with Canada, joins after a season at St Johnstone where he scored just once in 38 games, albeit making the majority of his appearances as a substitute.

Motherwell are looking to revamp their attack to make up for the departure of Kevin van Veen, who found the net 29 times in all competitions last season but has moved to Groningen.

Kettlewell doesn’t see Bair as a direct replacement but as a “project” that he can develop. The former Ross County boss highlighted Ross Stewart as a player he had coached to success after a disappointing season elsewhere.

“I have always been someone that looks for people that need a second chance, who have room for growth,” the manager said.

“When I was at Ross County we signed Ross Stewart from St Mirren – hadn’t kicked a ball really. And I am not trying to heap this pressure on Theo but I think if you scoured the country and asked anyone if they would want to take Ross Stewart in the top flight at that time the answer would have been no.

“I understand that people might doubt the fact that Theo has had one goal at St Johnstone and maybe limited game time. But it’s safe to say that I see, and the staff see, something in Theo that we think is going to connect with how we play, and I think that will be a success in the Premiership.

“I am hanging my hat on Theo Bair and I think there is loads of room for growth.

“Theo will have a bit of frustration in his time at St Johnstone but it’s now my job and Theo’s job to essentially prove doubters wrong. One thing I love doing is proving people wrong.

“Everybody knows where they will point the finger if that’s not a success but I am quietly confident that Theo adds a real bit of quality and several aspects to our team that starts to become a success.”

With Bair’s fellow strikers John Obika and Conor Wilkinson also coming off the back of unproductive seasons in front of goal, Kettlewell is looking for other players to contribute and to help take the pressure off the players in the front line.

“I need to think overall, not just in the striker situation, how we adjust and score goals and get assists from other areas of the pitch?” he said.

“And how can we eke out a little bit more from the other guys in terms of numbers?

“I will use Jon Obika as an example. Jon had a definitive role within our team when he was playing as a strike partner with Kevin. Maybe that changes some of the positions he takes up, which gives him greater opportunity.

“As well as one or two new players coming in like Conor Wilkinson. Conor will be a guy that backs himself to score goals in this league, as difficult as that will be. I also think we have good quality in other areas, midfield, set-plays.”

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