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    Jones keen to play his part

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    McCall keen to retain his squad

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    Murphy & Craigan up for award

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    Murphy wishing for ‘Well cup joy

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    Officials appointed for Hearts clash

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    Sutton aiming for Cup glory

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    Stalwart’s praise for young guns

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    Club say thank you to fans

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    McCall thrilled with Hampden heros

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    St Johnstone win in pictures

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    Jones keen to play his part

    Steve Jones has praised the talent of the Motherwell squad – but has set his sight on proving he too is worthy of a regular place in the starting eleven.

    The Northern Irishman admits that he has been surprised with the overall standard of the Scottish game; in particular, the ‘Well ranks, and he has tipped the likes of Jamie Murphy, Chris Humphrey and Shaun Hutchison for great things.

    “I see enough talent there to go, at the very least, into the Championship,” he praised. “The players here are still young and learning and have a great opportunity.

    “There’s even clubs in the English Premier League – your Bolton’s and Fulham’s – who bring in young players and nurture them through. There are definitely boys here who have that potential. I really think the sky is the limit.

    “John Sutton is banging in the goals, Murph (Jamie Murphy) and Humphs (Chris Humphrey) have been superb and I have been really impressed with big Hutch (Shaun Hutchinson) who has been really dominant and impressive at the back.”

    Despite what he admits is fierce competition for a first-team place, the former Northern Irish internationalist has hopes of fighting his way into the first-team reckoning at Fir Park.

    If he achieves that, and perhaps features in a Cup final in the process, Jones confesses that he would be keen to sit down and talk terms with Motherwell. His contract at parent club Walsall expires in the summer and he would not be averse to extending ‘a really enjoyable’ spell in North Lanarkshire.

    No-one is totally safe; the squad which played in the semi-final may not be the squad that plays in the final,” the 34-year old said keenly. “So I’ll be on my toes, just like the rest of the players.

    He continued: “I’m open to all options. I see no reason why I wouldn’t want to stay (at Motherwell), as I’m really enjoying my time here and that’s the main thing. It’s too early to start talking about these things – that will come at the end of the season. But I feel like I look after myself the right way and have plenty of football left in me.”

    The Motherwell on-loan winger also dismissed any idea that the Steelmen may switch off in the SPL with the May 21st showpiece to look forward to.

    Instead, he believes it will inspire a surge in the final five games as players fight to secure their place in the team on that special occasion – starting with the trip to Tynecastle; a location where ‘Well are unbeaten in their last three visits. Indeed, Jim Jefferies has not tasted victory over Motherwell in Gorgie since he returned to Hearts.

    “We had a meeting yesterday and we all said that we don’t just want to stay where we are,” the determined former Bradford player insisted. “Especially with a Cup final place on the line; we will push on and hopefully win as many games as we can.”

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    McCall keen to retain his squad

    Stuart McCall has urged his out of contract stars to sign new deals, and help set the foundations of something special at Fir Park.

    Several heroes of the Steelmen’s stunning Cup run and ascension into the top six have deals which end this Summer, including John Sutton, Franny Jeffers and Steve Jennings, and the ‘Well gaffer has assured Motherwell fans that the club have begun negotiations to keep several of the club’s key performers.

    And McCall, speaking to the Press at his pre-match press conference, has insisted that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side: “Sometimes in football, as in life, it’s not all about getting an extra £5 on your weekly pay-packet.

    “It’s about job satisfaction; about enjoying coming to your work in the morning. As I player I used to love coming to training and I have tried to, as a manager, create an atmosphere where the players want to come and progress, to work hard and to learn.

    “I’m meeting agents in the next few days, but I’ve already said to a few players that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you are happy, content and enjoying life then sometimes there is no need for a change.”

    The Motherwell boss is happy that the recent achievements have put the club in a decent position to negotiate new deals with several members of the first team squad.

    The Steelmen have reached a lucrative Scottish Cup Final, have ensured the prestige and financial rewards associated with top-six football and could still attain European football next season should Celtic win the SPL or ‘Well lift the Cup.

    While it doesn’t guarantee an extended stay for all the expiring stalwarts, it does benefit the club.

    “I knew, coming here, that top-six football and a decent Cup run would help to maintain the budget,” said the 46-year old. “There will be a lot of clubs next season actually cutting their budget, but when we sit down with the players we will hopefully be able to offer good deals.

    “We will offer them the best deal we can. When agents get involved it becomes complicated as they want to get every penny they can get – which is understandable – so I guess we will have to wait and see.

    “We know what a good squad we have here and we want to keep it together, so it’s a case of working hard to find the solution.”

    The gaffer also re-iterated his desire to hold on to his young stars who have impressed immensely this campaign. The likes of Chris Humphrey, Jamie Murphy and Shaun Hutchinson have turned in performances which are bound to have caught the eye of many clubs.

    But McCall is steadfast in his desire to keep this talented squad together at Fir Park, and believes North Lanarkshire is the right placce to be for his charges to develop their games and reach their potential.

    “You can look at a lot of our squad and think that big clubs might be coming in for them,” the gaffer conceded. “Being selfish, I hope that isn’t the case, because we want to hold on to our best players.

    “You look at players like Jamie Murphy and they are flourishing. And I think another season here will make them better players again – but you have to say that it is a testament to the players that people are even talking about them.”

    Away from contract matters and Stuart McCall has moved to urge his players to finish the SPL strongly, and catch this season’s surprise-package Killie – and in doing so assure themselves a Cup final berth.

    A top-six finish was always the priority for the Steelmen, but now that has been achieved McCall certainly isn’t letting his players rest on their laurels, especially ahead of the May 21st showpiece.

    “I think our aim has to be to catch Kilmarnock,” McCall challenged. “At three points I believe that is very do-able.

    “But we will give our all in every match in the final five games and we will look to kick-on because all the players are desperate to be in that team for the Cup final.”

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    Murphy & Craigan up for award

    Jamie Murphy and Stephen Craigan have both been nominated for the Scottish Cup Player of the Semi Final award.

    Vote for your Player of the Round at the official Scottish Cup Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/scottishcup and be in with the chance of winning a pair of tickets to the Scottish Cup final between Motherwell and Celtic on 21 May.

    The nominations are:

    Stephen Craigan (Motherwell)
    Jamie Murphy (Motherwell)
    Joe Ledley (Celtic)
    Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic)

    Voting closes on Wednesday 4 May 2011…

    Good luck!

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    Murphy wishing for ‘Well cup joy

    Jamie Murphy will use the joyous scenes that greeted the Motherwell players after their victory over St Johnstone as inspiration for the final against Celtic.

    Murphy began to realise how much their 3-0 victory meant when the Motherwell team bus was stopped in the road before fans flocked to welcome them at Fir Park.

    And he is eager to spark more celebrations when Motherwell face Neil Lennon’s men on May 21.

    “It was great to come back to Fir Park and see all the fans waiting for us,” Murphy said.

    “It gives you that incentive that if you do win the cup final there is going to be even more here and at the game celebrating as well.

    “You hear stuff that it means a lot but you never really know until after the game.

    “When you see the celebrations from the fans after the game and them following the bus, it’s great. It’s what you want to see as a football player, it means you are doing well.

    “It was at the Electric Bar on Airbles Road, the fans ran across the road and stopped the bus for a wee while. It was good to see, obviously everyone was enjoying themselves and had a great day out.”

    Murphy was outstanding against Saints, netting a spectacular solo goal, but the 21-year-old is still coming to terms with the fact he has helped Motherwell to their first Scottish Cup final for 20 years.

    “I was just looking forward to the game more than being nervous about it,” the former Scotland Under-21 international said.

    “It was a massive game for the club and all the players and myself as well, so to do well in a big game like that was great and it means we’ve got one more big game now.

    “It’s still sinking in, it’s not every day you score a goal in a Scottish Cup semi-final. I’m getting a lot of texts and phone calls and stuff, everyone wants to go to the final.

    “It will be great to have a big support there, especially my friends and family.”

    Murphy almost added a second solo goal when he glided through the Saints defence before slipping the ball inches wide.

    The pacy forward’s display drew comparisons with James McFadden from Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley, who played with both.

    “It’s flattering but James McFadden will always be remembered by the Motherwell fans for who he was and what he did,” Murphy said.

    “I just need to keep trying to do well and hopefully make a name for myself here and take it from there.”

    Murphy has grown in confidence over the past 12 months or so and his faith in himself and his team-mates will encourage him ahead of the final clash against Celtic.

    “We know we have a good team and if we play well on the day, we are a match for most teams,” he said. So we just need to prepare right between now and the end of the season and hopefully do well in the league.”

    Motherwell will qualify for Europe if Celtic win the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, whatever happens at Hampden.

    But Murphy has not given up hope of securing a European place before the cup final by closing an eight-point deficit on fourth-placed Dundee United.

    “We’re trying to do as well as we can in the league, that’s the only sure way that we’re in Europe,” said Murphy, whose team face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.”

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    Officials appointed for Hearts clash

    Willie Collum will take charge of Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Hearts at Tynecastle.

    Regarded as one of Scotland’s best up-and-coming officials, this will be Willie’s third Motherwell game of the current campaign.

    He was in charge of the Co-operative Insurance Cup Quarter Final clash with Dundee United at Fir Park; Alan Gow’s late goal booking ‘Well’s spot in Sunday’s showpiece occasion. He was the man in the middle for the Semi Final too as Rangers scraped past a brave ‘Well side 2-1; Keith Lasley grabbed the goal for the Fir Parkers.

    Collum has had a busy, and at times, challenging season. Just before that Cup clash with the Arabs, the 32-year-old had been at the centre of an Old Firm storm after awarding Rangers a controversial penalty.

    However, to his credit, Collum has gone on to have another excellent season with highlights so far including three Champions League games in Greece, Germany and Romania, two Europa League games in Germany and Holland as well as the Euro 2012 qualifiers between France and Belarus in Paris and Bulgaria and Switzerland in Sofia.

    Last season, Collum took charge of three Motherwell matches. Jim Gannon’s side crashed to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at St Mirren in the Co-operative Cup and followed that with another defeat; by the same score line, at Tannadice some five months later.

    However, the most memorable, by far was the 6-6 draw with Hibs at the tail end of last season.

    Incredibly, Motherwell have never won a league game whilst Collum has been in charge. The only victory recorded whilst the Bellshill based whistler has been the man in the middle was the then CIS Cup win against Raith Rovers at the start of the 2007/08 season,  a Scottish Cup success at Inverurie the following season and the aforementioned win over Dundee Utd last October.

    His overall record in charge of the Steelmen reads three wins, seven defeats and two draws from twelve matches.

    In those games, Motherwell have scored 18 and conceded 24. 20 players have gone into the book, ten wearing claret and amber, while two players have been dismissed – Ian Murray of Hibs at Easter Road a few years back and Jerard Aafjes at Falkirk last season.

    James Bee and David Watt will run the lines, with Neil Watters on fourth official duties.

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    Sutton aiming for Cup glory

    John Sutton insists Motherwell won’t simply make up the numbers in next month’s Cup final with Celtic.

    The Steelmen have achieved nothing, yet. Not a criticism; merely a statement of intent from the Hampden hero, who has already set his sights on becoming a Scottish Cup winner on May 21st.

    While other sides may be content to reach their first final in 20 years – to soak up the atmosphere and collect the plaudits – Sutton says that anything other than lifting the trophy would still amount to failure.

    The determined 27-year old insisted: “There are a lot of teams who would reach the final and think ‘that’s that.’

    “But most definitely we want to go on a lift the trophy; it was a good result in the semi-final as St Johnstone are a good side. Now we are in the final, against Celtic, we don’t want to just turn up, we want to go on and win it.

    “There are pictures of the 1991 side all over Fir Park, and you talk to people about Motherwell and that is the first thing that comes to mind.”

    The Steelmen reached the final after a blistering opening half, which saw the men in Claret and Amber two goals to the good within 14 minutes, before Sutton added a third in spectacular fashion five minutes before the break.

    Despite this vibrant opening, the big striker actually says that Stuart McCall told them to relax in the early stages.

    “No, he said the opposite,” the former Spurs youth laughed, when asked whether ‘Well had been under instructions to go for the jugular from the first whistle. “He actually said if you have a poor first 15 minutes don’t panic.

    “It’s a good pitch and he thought that would suit us. We didn’t play at our best but when we did get the ball down we cut them open a few times and were probably good value for 3-0 at half time.

    “It was a good goal to get [Sutton’s strike]. At the time it made it extremely difficult for them to come back. 2-0 at half time would have been okay but if they had got a goal at the start of the second half things would have been difficult, but at 3-0 made it very difficult for them.”

    The attacking options of Motherwell have garnered much praised after the demolition of the Saints, with Jamie Murphy gaining particular acclaim for a stunning display, ably aided by the likes of Humphrey, Lasley and Jeffers.

    Sutton was also his usual effective bustling presence up front, and his goal continued a stunning cup campaign for the big Englishman, who has now scored in every round of the competition.

    When drawn on the idea of potentially carrying that habit on in the final he had his priorities clear: It doesn’t matter if ‘Well lift the cup!

    “The main thing is getting a result in the final,” he admitted. “It would be great to take one step forward and repeat the feats of 1991.”

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    Stalwart’s praise for young guns

    Stephen Craigan and Stevie Hammell hailed the magic of Jamie Murphy after leading Motherwell to their first Scottish Cup Final in 20 years.

    Murphy scored a wonderful solo goal to double ‘Well’s lead after just 14 minutes – ten minutes after captain Craigan had given McCall’s men the lead. It set the side in Claret and Amber on their way to a handsome 3-0 victory.

    Yet the ‘Well captain was modest enough to admit that the Steelmen had not even been at their best as they blitzed Derek McInnes’ St. Johnstone side – but he hailed the 21-year old who tormented the Perthshire club all day long.

    “When you have got the quality of Jamie Murphy who can take people on, beat them and create things, then you always know he’ll be a threat.” the ‘Well captain lauded.

    “We never felt totally comfortable, as I don’t think we started the game particularly well. In the first thirty minutes we didn’t pass the ball well, although we did get our goals at the right time.

    “We were struggling to get a foothold in midfield. They had the extra man in there and they were dominating that area. Set-pieces were also a danger against us.

    Craigan’s emphatic header was the Steelmen stalwart’s first goal in five years – with the 34-year old clearly having a knack for dramatic timing.

    But the ‘Well legend admits that he very nearly wasn’t in position to score the opener at Hampden. Indeed, without the say-so of his gaffer he might have still been in defence as Tom Hateley whipped in his sumptuous delivery.

    “I wasn’t even going to go up for the corner,” the captain smiled. “But the manager gave me the go ahead and I went up for it. It was a strange one. I didn’t expect to get the chance; I thought the goalkeeper had it covered.

    “You can tell by my reaction to scoring that I wasn’t too sure what to do with myself! It’s strange when you haven’t score for a while, but you can tell I was emotional and I was up for the game today to say the least.” 

    The goals from Craigan and Murphy were supplemented, five minutes before the break, as John Sutton lashed home a spectacular 30-yard strike, which looped over the flat-footed Peter Enckleman.

    And another ‘Well stalwart, Stevie Hammell was full of praise for Motherwell’s explosive front players who proved simply too hot to handle for the Saints.

    Hammell said: “I think they started by putting more pressure on us but if we can get the ball to our front players we can cause any team problems.

    “This helped take the pressure off, I don’t think we created a lot of chances but being two up in a big pressure game gives you a cushion and allows you to relax a bit.”

    The Steelmen are now in the pleasurable position of being able to relax and watch the second semi-final, as Celtic and Aberdeen battle it out for the right to join ‘Well at Hampden in May.

    And, regardless of who progresses, Hammell has his eyes on lifting the trophy.

    “Well we are going to go out later and we will see if we get back in time to make it to watch the game,” the left-back smiled after the victory. “I don’t mind who we get as it is great to get there.

    “Everywhere you look at the club all you see and hear is the 1991 stuff, and if we could lift the trophy it would be a dream come true.”

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    Club say thank you to fans

    Motherwell FC today paid tribute to the 7,000 fans that made the Semi Final at Hampden such a memorable occasion.

    The Steelmen were cheered on by a positive, vocal and loud support which spurred the team to a terrific 3-0 win.

    And it was something that was highlighted by staff both on and off the field.

    ‘Well boss Stuart McCall said, “I would like to dedicate the win to our terrific fans that have been absolutely fantastic since I arrived four or five months ago.

    “The backing the boys received today was terrific and that certainly helped lift their performance, particularly in the first half.

    “I hope each and every one of them has a great night tonight. They deserve it and I am so glad they now have a Cup Final to look forward to.”

    Chief Executive Leeann Dempster added, “It was fantastic to see the stands at Hampden so colourful and I want to thank the fans for helping us get there.

    “These are very exciting times for the club, we want to build on this and really push on. Between now and May 21st, I want the whole of Lanarkshire to be bathed in Claret and Amber and really get the community feeling behind the club and the players.

    “Getting to any Final is a major achievement and I want to pay special credit to Stuart McCall, his staff and the players for such an excellent display.”

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    McCall thrilled with Hampden heros

    Stuart McCall hailed the “individual brilliance” that propelled his team into their first Scottish Cup final for twenty years.

    A superb solo goal from Jamie Murphy and a 30-yard lob from John Sutton secured Motherwell’s 3-0 win over St Johnstone before half-time after Stephen Craigan had been gifted a fifth-minute opener when Perth goalkeeper Peter Enckelman missed Tom Hateley’s inswinging corner.

    McCall felt his side had not been at their best in the first period but he hailed the moments of magic that secured Motherwell’s triumph.

    Murphy ran from the left flank across three Saints defenders before firing into the bottom corner and almost repeated the feat after Keith Lasley had missed a great chance following an impressive move, all in the first half.

    McCall said: “First and foremost I’m absolutely delighted to be in the final. I think we probably merited it but I looked at the clock after 25 minutes and we were 2-0 up and not really played to be honest.

    “We got a goal from a set-piece and a bit of individual brilliance from Jamie Murphy. I said prior to the game we had players in the team like Murphy who could produce a bit of individual brilliance and he certainly did that.

    “Without being too negative, we could have played better in the first 45 minutes. St Johnstone had a lot of possession but the third goal was a terrific goal, a good lay-off from Franny (Jeffers) and a great finish from Sutty.

    “The bits of excellence we got the two goals from and Lasley and Murphy just went wide of the post. We played in little spells, if these little spells are good enough to get you goals then great.

    “In fairness to St Johnstone they certainly deserved a goal in the second half but, all in all, job done.

    McCall, who delayed his team selection to allow winger Chris Humphrey to prove his fitness following a leg injury, admitted he wanted Aberdeen to shock Celtic in the second semi-final tomorrow.

    Motherwell would be assured a Europa League place if Celtic reached the final and won the league but McCall is only eyeing Hampden glory.

    “There is no way I cannot say we would like Aberdeen,” he said. “That’s not being disrespectful, it’s just being honest. If I stood here now and said I’m not bothered, I’d be a liar.

    “That’s no disrespect to Craig and Archie or Aberdeen, I’m sure they would say exactly the same. So, come on Aberdeen!”

    But he added: “In all seriousness, we’re in a final and if we can get our strongest eleven on the park, I’m confident we can give anyone a game on any given day.

    “If it was Celtic I know we would have to be at our very best but we’ve got a little bit of confidence in the fact we have beaten them already.”

    “Getting back to the game, it was a really difficult morning. Chris Humphrey had a fitness test at half eight because on Thursday he was no-go, the blood was swelling up in his leg. We had to delay the team selection to the last minute, which I don’t like doing.

    “To tell lads like Gavin Gunning and Maurice Ross they were out of the starting eleven and guys like Saunders and Ross Forbes, who was outstanding last week, out of the sixteen was really difficult. But we’re a group and everyone is behind each other.”

    McCall will now look to secure the future of several players after securing a top-six place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and a cup final on successive weekends.

    Steve Jennings, Sutton, Craigan, Maurice Ross and Jeffers are all out of contract at the end of the season.

    “We will hopefully be discussing next week, if anyone bothers to turn in, they want to go straight to Tynecastle for next week’s game,” McCall said.

    “They will be in on Tuesday and certain people will hopefully be discussing lengthening their stay.”

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    St Johnstone win in pictures

    Pictures from the 3-0 win over St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup Semi Final at Hampden.

    These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.

    [svgallery name=”stjohnstone160411″]