Facing former youth teammate Liam Brown was no gentle introduction to Motherwell’s number six shirt – but Barry Maguire knows how big the season ahead is for him.
The midfielder has been in and out of the Motherwell team since returning from a loan spell at Queen of the South in 2019. Manager Graham Alexander has been impressed with what Maguire has displayed since arriving as ‘Well boss in January, highlighted by playing him in every competitive match outside the final two of last term.
Influential midfielder Allan Campbell left the club this summer and there’s a void to fill, but having already broken his beep test record, Maguire is hoping for a big campaign: “They turned it off and I couldn’t hear the levels at all – I had no clue where I was. It wasn’t until I came in last week that they said 23 and I was like ‘no way.’
“I was probably in as much disbelief as other people because I didn’t even know the score until I had finished. I’ll take it because it’s something that I pride myself on – my fitness. To come in for pre-season and to get a score like that is massive to my game.
“It’s been really tough to be fair. From the beep test on the first day and you get a wee bite to eat then it’s back out to training. It’s been solid but you need to do it. We’ve been back two or three weeks then it’s straight into a cup game, so we are still considering it pre-season. We need to get up to match fitness.”
Maguire has been handed Campbell’s number six ahead of the new cinch Premiership campaign, but he isn’t reading too much into the change: “It’s just a number but being on the park is the main thing. It’s not something I was too bothered about because I’m not one of those players that needs a certain number or that.
“It obviously helps having a starting eleven number – it looks the part anyway. You need to play the part on the pitch to keep your position. It’s something that I’ve never really been bothered about but I’m happy to have it.”
Motherwell’s Premier Sports Cup group stage campaign got off to a winning start against Queen’s Park, Maguire influential in the goal that secured a 1-0 win. The 23-year-old knows this season is crucial for him personally, and facing former Motherwell academy teammate Brown was a good place to start.
Maguire said: “Wee Scholsey – what a player! I know what he’s capable of and as soon as I saw him on my side of the park, I knew what kind of game I was in for. There are no pals on the park. You can have a laugh, here and there, but when it comes to the battle it’s all serious.
“We knew going into the game how good a team Queen’s Park have put together. Especially over the last couple of weeks with the players that they’ve brought in and most of the boys know some of the players. We know how tough an ask it was going to be but getting the win was the main thing.
“This season is massive for me as before I was in and out of the team – it was just a learning curve. Knowing my age, I needed to figure out what I had to do to stay in the team. From speaking to the manager, I know exactly what he’s wanting from me so if I can implement that then I can stay on the pitch.”
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