Can you boogie? Mark O’Hara believes he can.
In the last two weeks, Scottish football has been floating on cloud nine, with the sound of Baccara echoing somewhere in the distance.
Scotland have ended a wait going back to 1998 for a place at a major finals, and already the nation is gripped by Euro fever. The bug has certainly bitten at Fir Park.
In Stephen Robinson’s ranks there are two national treasures who may well have been boogying for the last fortnight.
In Declan Gallagher and Stephen O’Donnell, Motherwell had two representatives on the pitch in Belgrade when Steve Clarke’s side edged out Serbia on penalties, with the former arguably the player who has caught the eye the most over the last two international breaks.
To have one Well player start regularly for something is remarkable. Two? Incredible. But two being part of the most successful Scotland team for a generation? It’s bordering on fantasy.
Yet, it’s a fantasy that has allowed players throughout Scotland to dream. Dream that a place in the Scotland team is not reserved for players on either side of the Old Firm or the English leagues, but Clarke’s door is open to anyone who can prove he can make the grade.
“What Declan and Stephen have done is a terrific achievement, and I reckon every Scottish top flight player right now should be inspired by that,” said O’Hara.
“It’s a real goal to aim for. There’s a lot of time between now and the end of the season to put a good run of form together to try and catch the eye before the Euros.
“I’m sure everyone is motivated. If you are doing well, Steve Clarke has shown he’s not afraid to put people into a squad, so it’s a big objective for everyone. Certainly in our club, but probably at others, too.”
He added: “The pair of them haven’t really mentioned much in way of encouraging us to do what they’ve done, but you get to see them training every day and the levels that they put in. It’s incredible.
“You see they are very good players and the standard they are at. So it’s only natural when they come back in having helped Scotland qualify that there’s a buzz about the place.
“Personally, I want to be a part of that as well. It’s inspiring to see what the guys have been doing, and hopefully I’ll be a part of it as well one day.”
O’Hara’s versatility, coupled with his eye-catching performances of late, is a key factor that may well make him an outside shot to be on the plane to, err, Hampden next summer.
A full-back in his youth, the 24-year-old has made a name for himself in a central role at Fir Park, both in defence and the engine room.
He insists he’s happy to be deployed as Robinson sees fit, adding: “I’ve enjoyed playing anywhere the manager has put me if I’m being honest.
“When I was younger I used to get played at right-back but I’m not a huge fan of that. As long as I’m through the middle, whether at centre half or central midfield, I’m happy. To be honest, I just want to help the team, I’ll go anywhere.”
The opposition at Fir Park today is a familiar one. Fresh from a 1-1 stalemate last weekend on Scottish Premiership duty in Perth, Callum Davidson’s team arrive in Lanarkshire on Scottish League Cup duty.
“It’s always hard to go to McDiarmid Park,” reflected O’Hara. “St Johnstone have had a reasonable start to the season and are showing now that they are a decent side, so we just need to take encouragement from the game.
“For me, it’s a good point and hopefully it will be that when we look back on it at the end of the season. We just need to make sure we turn that draw into a win this weekend.
“We fancy our chances against anyone. We take confidence, particularly at home, you have to with the pitch the way it is.
“So yeah, we’re looking forward to the game and we are confident that it will go in our favour.”
O’Hara needs no history lesson to be motivated by the task this afternoon.
A mention that Motherwell have only won the competition once is noted, as is the notion that the Steelmen have had to watch other clubs of a similar stature lift the trophy in recent seasons.
While last season’s third-place finish brought European football, increased prize money and immense satisfaction, disappointing exits in the cups were sorely felt.
O’Hara hopes all of these elements will be addressed this afternoon.
“We definitely think we can do something in the cup,” he said.
“When the season starts I think the objective is normally top six and a decent cup run, whether the Scottish Cup or League Cup. And it’s a real opportunity to do well in a tournament.
“It doesn’t matter what club you’re at, every player wants to strive for a piece of silverware at the end of the season. We have a very good squad and I think we are more than capable of going far.
“It’s another achievement we want to shoot for, and we know we have what it takes.”
By Scott Mullen