Places are up for grabs in Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell side that will return to the Europa League next week – and Mark O’Hara is aiming to book his start against Hamilton.

It’s a big eight days for the Steelmen as they face Accies in the Lanarkshire derby today, Glentoran in the Europa League on Thursday and a trip to Celtic Park next Sunday.

Big week for Stephen Robinson. (Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The European tie with Northern Irish side Glentoran is one that’s building excitement around the club. It’s a return to Europe for the first time in six years for Motherwell and O’Hara says places in that XI are up for grabs against Accies.

“The signs are there that we just need a bit of luck to kickstart our season,” O’Hara said. “Against Livingston it was very physical, last Saturday (v Hibs) we got back to how we want to play, getting the ball down, controlling the game.

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“The manager did have some words on how we are going to change it and I think we’ve proven we can do that. Hopefully this Saturday things go for us. It’s got that wee added bite of it being a derby against Hamilton so it would be a good one for us to get for the fans.

Fans won’t be there but demand will be. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“It’s a really big week for us, there’s a bit of excitement around. There’s a good feeling about the place and hopefully the week can get off to a good start against Hamilton.

“Everyone wants to be involved in that game (v Glentoran) so the only way we can do that is by performing. So that is the goal. I played in a couple derby games last season and both games were very physical and fiery. It’ll be interesting without the fans but I’m sure that won’t take away from it.”

North Lanarkshire return

O’Hara is now in his second spell as a Motherwell player. Joining on loan from Peterborough United last summer, that deal was made permanent in the summer, something the midfielder was keen to make happen.

O’Hara was last at Peterborough. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

But it wasn’t a simple transition. The deal stalled in stages during the lockdown period, but eventually it got over the line. It was a slightly worrying time for O’Hara but he’s glad to be back at Fir Park.

“It was a bit frustrating at the start as circumstances meant that the move didn’t happen as soon as I’d like, so it was a wee bit uncertain,” said the midfielder. “But I was always big on coming back here so I was in constant contact with the manager and Alan Burrows.

“I love working with the coaching staff and I feel I’ve learned a lot. From a personal point of view, a good season here maybe allows me to kick on again.

“I’d say I’m happy with my form. I feel as if I’ve been making progress, it’s a very strong midfield and everyone has to be 100% to keep that jersey.”

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