Kettlewell hopes to mould ‘ball of plasticine’ Bair into top striker

The Motherwell boss says he enjoys the challenge of developing players.

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell has likened in-form Theo Bair to a ball of plasticine that can be shaped into a top striker.

Bair only scored once in 38 games for St Johnstone but Kettlewell saw potential that others could not see and his faith is beginning to be vindicated in emphatic fashion.

The 24-year-old has scored five goals in his last four cinch Premiership games and seven in total this season.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s home game against Ross County, Kettlewell said: “I believe in a coaching process. I have never been handed the perfect footballer.

“That’s the bit that excites me because I want to work with players and go through that coaching process, individually through analysis, on the pitch, I want to try and get inside their head at times and see if we can help them with their confidence.

“Theo Bair is that ball of plasticine, when you look at his physical traits and the type of person he is, he wants to learn. He doesn’t come here with any ego whatsoever.

“From that ball of plasticine, you almost get to shape him into what you think he can become.

“Ross Stewart wasn’t a £10million striker when he came through the door for £20,000 at Ross County, he became that because he had a lot of similar traits to big Theo, being that humble person who wanted to get the absolute best out his career, and the physical traits to get him where he wants.

“The idea of bringing Theo Bair in here on day one was pretty exciting for me because I believed he had so far to go.

“Fair credit to Theo, he is in a good place, but the big task for him now is to continue that and increase his numbers and lead the line for us on a weekly basis and be the handful he has been for a decent amount of time now.”

Motherwell are three points above second-bottom County so the game could have a huge bearing on the table, but Kettlewell wants to focus on performances after going five games unbeaten.

“I suppose these games start to feel a little bit bigger when you are running down games, but you can get caught up too much in the occasion,” he said.

“From the players’ point of view, I don’t want to focus too much on the occasion, I want us to think about how we convert those performances into (more) points.”

Meanwhile, Kettlewell insisted work was well under way to prepare for next season.

The manager’s own contract expires at the end of the season along with the likes of Liam Kelly, Stephen O’Donnell, Paul McGinn, Calum Butcher, Bevis Mugabi, Blair Spittal and Callum Slattery among others. Only seven of the 24-man first-team squad is under contract beyond the summer.

The chairman and chief executive positions are also due to change and there is an air of a club in transition, but Kettlewell stressed that contract talks with players were being taken care of.

“That process has been ongoing for months,” he said. “It’s like the transfer window, sometimes you get the players you want. It’s the same with contract negotiations, sometimes you are successful quickly, sometimes you are successful through a long-term process and sometimes you are not successful at all. We can only make our best play at it.”Show less

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