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    Craigan wins cap 48 in South American heat

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    Fitzpatrick nets new short-term deal

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    Another year for Page

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    Murphy pens new deal

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    Jennings extends his stay

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    Youths complete college studies

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    Saunders and McHugh get the call

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    Pitch programme continues apace

  • Archive

    McGlinchey is South Africa bound

  • Archive

    Darren Smith leaves the club

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    Craigan wins cap 48 in South American heat

    Stephen Craigan’s Northern Ireland concluded their summer tour with this narrow defeat to World Cup bound Chile in the Estadio Nelson Oyarzún, Chillan.

    As with Wednesday’s meeting with Turkey, Nigel Worthington fielded an inexperienced XI and, like that game in Connecticut, the players produced a performance and result that defied the worst fears of those that predicted a rout.

    Chile started brightly, forcing Alan Blayney into action early on when Marco Estrada fired a shot straight at him while the Linfield ‘keeper had to race off his line a short time later to deny Gonzalo Fierro.

    But the Chileans had to wait until the 31st minute to grab what proved to be the only goal of the game after Matias Fernandez floated over a corner for Esteban Paredes to rise above Ryan McGivern to squeeze a header between Michael Bryan and the back post.

    However, Northern Ireland might have gone in at the break on level terms when Rory Patterson played Johnny Gorman through only for the 17-year-old to fire over the bar with just ‘keeper Miguel Pinto to beat.

    Blayney was replaced by Michael McGovern at the break – one of a number of substitutions – and the Ross County man was soon involved when he turned a Mark Gonzalez effort around an upright before keeping out an Estrada shot from distance while Arturo Vidal was also foiled.

    Skipper Craigan had another solid outing and is now only two appearances away from reaching the milestone of fifty appearances.

    Northern Ireland: Blayney (McGovern 56), Little, McGivern (Coates 56), McAuley, Craigan, C. Evans, Garrett (McArdle 46), Patterson, Mulgrew, Gorman (Magennis 73), Bryan (Braniff 46)

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    Fitzpatrick nets new short-term deal

    Motherwell FC can today confirm that midfielder Marc Fitzpatrick has signed a short-term extension to his contract.

    The 24-year-old had a torrid time with injuries last season, missing the bulk of the campaign with a hip injury, quickly followed by a hamstring tear.

    As a result, ‘Well boss Craig Brown wasn’t given an opportunity to have a proper look at the player and has rewarded him with a deal till Christmas.

    That will allow Fitzpatrick, who scored the famous winning goal in the CIS Cup Semi Final against Hearts back in 2005, the opportunity to not only get fit but stake a claim for a first-team place.

    Speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, Fitzpatrick said, “Obviously I am delighted to have signed the contract to stay at Motherwell – I’ve been here a long, long time and built up a real feeling for the club.

    “Ideally it would have been for a little longer but, in saying that, I understand the situation. I was out of contract at the end of this month so I am thankful I have something sorted.

    “I will now work through the whole summer with the aim of getting as fit as I can be when we return for pre-season training. If I can do that, hopefully, I’ll do enough to have the contract extended beyond Christmas.”

    Brown was pleased to have another experienced player in the squad for next season and plans to have a look at the Lanark-born midfielder in the upcoming months.

    “Marc had a horrible time with injuries last season; he was really unlucky,” said manager Craig Brown.

    “He’s a former Scotland U21 International who has played 136 games for Motherwell, including European football so we know he is capable. But with him suffering so badly last year, Archie and I never had an opportunity to get a proper look at him which we will do now.”

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    Another year for Page

    Jonathan Page has committed his future to the club by signing a one-year extension to his current contract, keeping him at Fir Park until 2012.

    The young defender arrived from Portsmouth in the summer of 2008 and after an excellent first-year in the U19s, was rewarded with a two-year professional deal.

    Last year, under Jim Gannon, it didn’t quite work out for the centre half although he did make his first-team debut in the Europa League first qualifying round tie against Llanelli in July. However, with Craig Brown’s arrival, Page was allowed to go on-loan to Second Division side Stirling Albion.

    There the defender played 16 times for the Binos, netting twice, and securing a league winners medal as Allan Moore’s side lifted the Championship trophy.

    He has impressed both Brown and Knox, who have watched him on several occasions at Forthbank, and is expected to push for a first-team place next campaign.

    Page, speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, said “It’s brilliant to have signed an extension; it gives me a little more peace of mind.

    “My main aim now is to try and claim a place in the first-team squad. My spell with Stirling was very beneficial indeed as you can’t replicate the benefits of competitive first-team football.

    “Going on loan had a really positive effect on Ross Forbes who returned from Dumbarton a much better player and made a big impact on the first-team last year. Hopefully I can do something similar myself.”

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    Murphy pens new deal

    The club are delighted to confirm that Scotland U21 star Jamie Murphy has put pen-to-paper on a two-year contract extension.

    Murphy, a product of the youth system, will now remain at Fir Park until the summer of 2013.

    The 20-year-old played in 44 games last season, starting 28, and netted on ten separate occasions. Included in that tally is Motherwell’s one and only European hat-trick when he hit three against Albanian’s Flamurtari in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

    Despite his youth, the Glasgow born striker has already played 97 times for the club and is likely to play a big part in first team next term.

    Speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, Murphy said: “I am delighted to extend my stay here; Motherwell has become a really big part of my life.

    “These next three years are probably going to be the most important in my footballing career as I continue to learn my trade. There’s no better place to do that, in my opinion, than here at Fir Park.

    “I’ve been at the club for nearly ten years so agreeing to another three wasn’t hard. Particularly because Craig and Archie are going to be here too; they are excellent coaches who you really want to work with.

    “My aim now is to hold down a regular first-team spot and score as many goals as I can for the team.”

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    Jennings extends his stay

    Motherwell FC are pleased to announce that midfielder Steve Jennings has signed a one-year extension to his deal at Fir Park.

    Jennings, who arrived from Tranmere as Jim Gannon’s first signing of the summer, enjoyed a fantastic first year in Scotland, particularly towards the end of the season.

    The midfielder put pen-to-paper last week but contract formalities have taken until today before the good news could be officially confirmed.

    Jennings, speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, said, “I am delighted that everything has finally been sorted out.

    “Motherwell is a club where everyone wants to base themselves for next season and this is a club going forward.

    “I like this part of the world – it’s certainly a hell of a lot different from Merseyside, but it’s not just the area, it’s the club. If you’ve got a good set of lads in the dressing room and good staff at the club then you can settle anywhere I think. Given Craig and Archie will be here next year then you’ve got everything you need here.”

    Manager Craig Brown was equally thrilled to tie up the midfielder, who has been the centre point of his team since arriving in late December last year.

    “It’s a massive boost for everyone that we’ve finally got Steve’s deal sorted out,” said the Motherwell boss.

    “He agreed some time ago but it has taken a bit of time to get everything fully tied up. But he’s an excellent midfield player who has been at the heart of everything we did in the second half of the season.

    “With a good pre-season behind him, I think we could see an even better Steve Jennings next term.”

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    Youths complete college studies

    Motherwell Football Club apprentices have shown they are as sharp off the pitch as they are on it after gaining certificates in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance.

    In a unique partnership with Motherwell College and the Club, the players were released from training for one day a week for two seasons.  Netting the Modern Apprentices certificates ensures that they have a recognised qualification to rely on in the future.

    The partnership was established in 2000 and since then many young Motherwell FC footballers – including Mark Reynolds and Stephen Hammell – have been through the course which involves learning about performance, health and safety as well as sports skills.  The qualification gives players an alternative within a sports-specific career.

    Hugh Logan Principal and Chief Executive of Motherwell College said:  “Congratulations to the apprentices for achieving their certificates. This gives them a sound base on which to build a career. Motherwell Football Club should also be congratulated for continuing to support their young players through the Modern Apprenticeship scheme.”

    Gordon Young, Head of Youth Development at Motherwell Football Club, said: “I would like to congratulate the boys on completing the Modern Apprenticeship qualification. It requires a great deal of dedication, discipline and hard work to combine playing full time football with further education.

    “The high caliber of staff at Motherwell College make it possible for the boys to cross pollinate between football and education with continual emphasis on life if football were not an income provider. Their flexibility to our schedule combined with the boy’s appreciation of the system allows us to work in partnership.”

    The two year course is funded by Skills Development Scotland and supported by SkillsActive.

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    Saunders and McHugh get the call

    Motherwell duo Steven Saunders and Robert McHugh have been included in the Scotland squad for the European Under-19 Championship Elite Round Group 1 matches in Croatia this month.

    The duo will meet with the rest of Ross Mathie’s squad this coming Friday before flying to Zagreb next Monday for the trio of matches against Montenegro, Belgium and Croatia.

    Saunders has been excellent this term, playing 30 matches, and scoring his first goal for the club a few weeks ago at Tynecastle. McHugh, who made his debut two years ago, also made a big impact this term having being involved in 13 games, scoring against Inverness CT in the Co-operative Insurance Cup.

    Saunders, who recently signed a contract extension till 2013, told motherwellfc.co.uk, “I have been delighted with how things have gone this season and to be included in the Scotland squad for the trip to Croatia has topped it off.

    “Hopefully I can go out there and represent Motherwell in the best possible way. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us; all three teams will provide very difficult opposition.

    “But this, along with playing in the SPL, will help my development.”

    In other news, Brannock High School Pupil, and current ‘Well Under 15’s defender, Morgyn Neill has been included in the Scotland U15’s squad to face Belgium at the end of the month.

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    Pitch programme continues apace

    Work to improve the stability of the Fir Park pitch is going extremely well and is expected to be fully completed by this Friday.

    Contractors have been working since last Saturday and are well on their way to completing the programme within the week.

    Head Groundsman Ian Wilson updated motherwellfc.co.uk on what has been going on, “We’ve added 400 tonnes of fibre reinforcement to the pitch that we hope holds together with greater stability next season.

    “The process of power harrowing has begun, which, in Laymen’s terms, is like big fingers that rotivates the fibre with the top four inches of rootzone. Almost like a whisk if you can imagine?

    “When that’s finished, we’ll firm it up with the rollers, grade it so it’s perfectly flat before adding a pre-seeder fertilizer. When that is complete, we’re hoping to seed the pitch and cover it with the germination covers this Friday which means the whole process will be complete within a week and ahead of schedule.”

    Wilson also spoke, in-depth; about the effect the fibresand will have on the drainage system and explained how the leaders in sports turf research have overseen the whole project.

    “This (adding fibresand) won’t cause the same problems we suffered a few years ago with drainage because we have got such a good rootzone.

    “Previously, our pitch was based almost purely on clay which, combined with the heat from the Under Soil Heating pipes, caused an almost impenetrable layer that the water couldn’t drain through.

    “We also now have a partnership with STRI, who are the independent market leader in consultancy & research for sports surfaces. They are in twice a day to ensure that all the processes that are being carried out are being done correctly.

    “We have been dealing with Andy Cole and Richard Windows on this project. Andy is the stadium expert for the likes of FIFA and will be going to the World Cup in that capacity. He also works closely with the Premier League in England the English FA so we really have the guys who are leaders in their field in to help us.

    “They have conducted, on our behalf, a feeding and aeration programme. On their recommendation, we have also purchased machines like moisture meters, clegg hammers for firmness and twisting meters so we can continually monitor the pitch throughout the year. As well as that, we will be installing a weather station here at Fir Park to give us the best possible chance of monitoring weather trends so we can react appropriately.

    “STRI will continue to work with us throughout the year, popping in to ensure everything is working well to give us the best possible chance.”

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    McGlinchey is South Africa bound

    On-loan Motherwell midfielder Michael McGlinchey has been named in Ricki Herbert’s 23-man New Zealand World Cup squad.

    Former Celtic youngster McGlinchey, on-loan to ‘Well from Aussie A-League side Central Coast Mariners, made his first start in the final game of the season at Ibrox on Sunday.

    Speaking exclusively to motherwellfc.co.uk, McGlinchey said, “I am absolutely delighted to be included in the squad; going to the World Cup is a dream come true.

    “I’ve been over at Motherwell to keep my fitness topped up and I have a lot to thank Craig Brown and Archie Knox for. Obviously, I would like to have played more but my arrival coincided with the boys going on a fantastic run so all credit to them for that.

    “But I’ve got the summer to look forward to and the prospect of lining up against the World Champions (Italy) in South Africa.”

    The 23-year-old is the only “Scottish” based player in the squad although former Hibernian and Celtic striker Chris Killen, now at Middlesbrough, has also been included.

    Also included is the veteran former Fulham midfielder Simon Elliott, who spent a fortnight at Fir Park on trial in January of 2009 trying to win a contract with the then ‘Well boss Mark McGhee. Elliott, who left Fir Park to return to American to sign for San Jose Earthquakes, will provide experience in the All Whites camp.

    Full New Zealand Squad: James Bannatyne (Team Wellington), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory) Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix); Andy Boyens (New York Red Bulls), Tony Lochhead (Wellington Phoenix), Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn), Winston Reid (FC Midtjylland), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City); Andy Barron (Team Wellington), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets), Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix), Jeremy Christie (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury United), Simon Elliott (unattached), Michael McGlinchey (Motherwell), David Mulligan (unattached); Rory Fallon (Plymouth), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast), Chris Wood (West Brom).

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    Darren Smith leaves the club

    Motherwell winger Darren Smith today paid tribute to the ‘Well fans as his eight years at Fir Park came to an end.

    Local boy Smith, 22, made his debut for the Steelmen as a fresh-faced sixteen-year-old back in the autumn of 2004 as an 88th minute substitute for Scott McDonald against Inverness CT at Pittodrie.

    Since then, the winger has gone on to appear 71 times in Claret and Amber and scored some vital goals along the way. However, as a former East Stand Season Ticket holder, Smith wanted to thank the fans before he left the club for the last time.

    Speaking to motherwellfc.co.uk, Smith said, “It’s quite sad and emotional for me as my time at Motherwell has come to an end.

    “I’ve had a great time here and I have nothing but fond memories. Not many people get the opportunity to come and play for the team they supported when they were younger. I used to sit in the East Stand with my friends when I was at school and a couple of years later I was out on the pitch playing which was a great honour and privilege for me.

    “It’s really been great and I am really thankful to everybody, particularly the fans who have always been fantastic with me. I’ve always been treated so well; people in the street or outside the club, after games, have always chatted away, gave me a lot of respect and supported me and for that I am extremely grateful and appreciative.”

    After his contract expiring at Fir Park, Smith’s main focus is to find a new club and put the last twelve-months behind him.

    And, with 8 goals from 19 starts including appearances in the UEFA Cup, it’s little wonder there’s already a great deal of interest in the former Scotland U21 star.

    “I look back with some pride at what I managed to achieve,” he said.

    “I scored some important goals, I seemed to pop up at the right time; thinking back to the last-minute goal to get a draw against Celtic and the goal against Aberdeen in the game we secured third spot under Mark McGhee.

    “But I’ve had a bad season with injuries which has been particularly disappointing. It is all about getting my career back on track, playing regular first-team football, scoring goals and enjoying it again.

    “It’s been a frustrating time lately but I am still very thankful to do the job that I do. Sometimes though, in this sport, you need to take one step back to go two forward. If that has to be the case now then so be it. I just want to get back playing; I know I can do it. I know I have the ability, I have scored goals here and played at the highest level (SPL and UEFA Cup) so I just need someone to take a chance on me.

    “In the meantime, I’ll keep myself fit over the summer so if I do get a shot, I will give myself the best possible chance.”