Stuart McCall admits he can’t wait to come up against his boyhood heroes when Leeds United visit Fir Park tomorrow afternoon.
McCall was born and brought up in the shadows of Elland Road and followed the club religiously as a youngster.
But perhaps more importantly, the current Fir Park gaffer is excited about the test his players will face when they lock horns with one of the best and biggest sides England has to offer.
“We’ve had a good pre-season in terms of games and training and we are really looking forward to the game now,” said McCall.
[pullquote]Sometimes in pre-season you can go on tour or play smaller teams and win by nine or ten goals. Whilst that is great for the confidence of your strikers, the defence don’t get worked enough but that won’t be the case tomorrow I am sure.[/pullquote]
“I understand one of their star players, the boy Becchio, has gone back down the road but that aside, they have a wealth of talent.
“They’ve just signed the lad Michael Brown, who I played with at Sheffield United; Leigh Bromby is the same. Robert Snodgrass has done brilliantly for them and Ross McCormack needs no introduction at all. Max Gradel has been linked with Premiership clubs so there is plenty there, many with top level experience, to test us and we need that.
“Although we’ve been very pleased with the quality of opposition in our pre-season games, there’s no doubt whatsoever that our defence and goalkeeper will get properly tested tomorrow. They’ve got players who can create and score; I am sure Darren will be worked, which you need.
“Sometimes in pre-season you can go on tour or play smaller teams and win by nine or ten goals. Whilst that is great for the confidence of your strikers, the defence don’t get worked enough but that won’t be the case tomorrow I am sure.”
McCall’s chequered career took him both north and south of the border and the 46-year old has had mixed fortunes against United.
However, he admits the fondness he has for the opposition won’t get in the way as he searches for another positive result and performance to complete Motherwell’s pre-season which has already produced a 100%, three wins from three, record thus far.
McCall continued: “I have a good few friends and family coming up from Leeds to watch the game.
“My dad played with them and I supported them all through my youth, both home and away, and in my day they were a team filled with a lot of Scots like Billy Bremner, Joe Jordan and the Gray bothers. No doubt they’ll bring a big, healthy support which should make for a good game.
“It’s funny; I didn’t have the greatest of records against them as a player until I joined Rangers. Prior to that, with Everton and Bradford, I don’t think I managed a single win.
“When I returned to England with Sheffield United we played them one season when they were a league above us and we knocked them out of both Cup competitions and beat them home and away the following season after we were promoted so hopefully we can keep that good run going!”
The Fir Park boss admits to having one or two injury doubts himself on the eve of the match.
The Steelmen have came through the last few weeks relatively unscathed until Wednesday night’s clash with Partick Thistle left a few nursing some bumps and bruises.
“There are a couple of little doubts; Michael Higdon is feeling his thigh and Stevie Hammell took a bang on the knee the other night,” the manager admitted.
“As much as we’d like them to get another game in before next Saturday, we won’t risk them if there’s any danger. We can work them harder next week if need be.
“That might give a chance for a couple of the younger boys to come in and experience playing against a really good side in front of what probably will be a healthy attendance.”