Motherwell host Ross County in the penultimate home league match of the 2016/17 campaign.
Ahead of what is yet another huge fixture, the Steelmen’s preparations took to the turf at Fir Park for training on Wednesday and Thursday.
And ‘Well boss Stephen Robinson knows that the pressure is beginning to mount but he insists his side are not shying away from it.
With four games remaining, the Steelmen sit in the relegation play-off spot, joint on points with Hamilton and one point behind Dundee.
And Robinson isn’t trying to hide the pressure from his players, admitting he believes they will excel from it.
Speaking to the press this morning, he said: “We’re feeling good, we’ve trained all week and trained on the pitch too which gave everyone a boost and obviously the standard of our pitch is superb.
“We’ve had some good work done this week so now we’re looking forward to the game.”
He added: “I don’t think that you can hide that there’s pressure, I don’t care what way you do it, there’s pressure.”
[pullquote]We’re feeling good, we’ve trained all week and trained on the pitch too which gave everyone a boost and obviously the standard of our pitch is superb.[/pullquote]
The Fir Park gaffer will still be without Stephen McManus, Richard Tait and Jacob Blyth who are out through injuries, while James McFadden’s return to fitness has been marked by two appearances this week in the under-20s.
Tickets for the crucial clash can be purchased tomorrow morning from 10am until kick off from the Fir Park ticket office, as well as on the turnstiles.
For those who can’t make it, you can follow all the action on Twitter @MotherwellFC and listen to live commentary on mixlr.com/motherwellfc
Well skipper Keith Lasley returned to Stephen Robinson’s starting eleven last weekend after missing out through suspension, and the skipper is ready for another battle at Fir Park tomorrow.
But the captain, in all of his experience, knows what it takes at this stage of the season and despite the positive performance against Dundee, all that matters now is the three points.
The midfielder admitted that the positive environment around the club as a whole is something the players need to consider and thrive from on the park.
The 37-year-old said: “It’s obviously a pressure situation, we’ve been through it before and we know what the implications are for the club if we don’t get the wins required.
“We’re determined, we’ve trained well again and we’re just ready to go for another home game on Saturday knowing the importance of three points.”
[pullquote]For me there is so much good work going on around this club, even this week with the season ticket initiatives, but we know the primary driver for all of that is what happens out there on a Saturday.[/pullquote]
He added: “Sometimes you don’t think about everything else that goes on at a football club, as a player you’re so focussed on your own training and preparing for each game that you kind of forget everything that’s going on around you.
“For me there is so much good work going on around this club, even this week with the season ticket initiatives, but we know the primary driver for all of that is what happens out there on a Saturday.”
Saturday’s visitors Ross County find themselves in a fight for survival with the Fir Parkers and will be raring to go as they battle for victory tomorrow.
Manager Jim McIntyre will have been looking for some kind of morale boost heading in to such an important run of matches, and the Staggies have certainly been given one following a fantastic recent run of results.
The Northerners are now unbeaten in their last four matches, a run of form matched only by Champions Celtic.
In that period, County have drawn with the Hoops and put their Northern neighbours Inverness to the sword in a 4-0 thrashing.
Top scorer Liam Boyce bagged all four goals as his side won the Highland derby, leaving Inverness’ relegation fears sliding ever more dangerously towards confirmation.
The striker pounced on Caley keeper Ryan Esson’s error to bag the opener and made it 2-0 with a neat, flicked header.
He then scored twice from the spot in the second half as the Caley Jags went down to ten men when Liam Polworth was sent off for giving away the second.
County now find themselves eighth in the table, eleven points above Inverness with a tally of twelve left to play for.
After the win, Jim McIntyre said: “We’re obviously delighted to get the victory in the manner we did.
“Our second half performance was fantastic and it was a very tight game to start with – both sides had spells and it was quite frantic and frenetic at time because derby matches are.”
He added: “Getting that all important first goal is crucial in these games and we managed to kick on from there.”
While Boyce is on fire and County finds themselves in the midst of one of the best runs they’ve enjoyed this season, today’s visitors will be without their top goal scorer who is suspended for his side’s trip to Fir Park today.
The forward’s quadruple took his tally to 20 league goals and that will undoubtedly be a loss this afternoon.
However, McIntyre reflected on how well his side performed against Inverness on an evening where they were without some important players.
He said: “We didn’t have a recognised centre-back tonight, we had a back three of full-backs and they dealt with the threats Inverness posed well.
“Our two strikers were exceptional as well and Boyce will get the headlines but him and Curran are such a potent partnership.”
Another dent will be the absence of Alex Schalk, the clubs second top goal scorer, who is missing through suspension today following the disciplinary action sanctioned to him after his simulation during the 2-2 draw with Celtic.
But the Staggies boss believes Craig Curran is hitting a fine run of form and will certainly be a threat on show for the visitors this afternoon.
McIntyre said: “Craig’ back to his very best and you could clearly see that tonight and that’s where the first goal came from – Craig being determined and winning that header then Boyce doesn’t give up at the back post.”
Tomorrow afternoon’s fixture is the fourth clash between the two sides following two wins for Motherwell and one draw and is undeniably the most important meeting between the two this term.