Motherwell manager Graham Alexander is hopeful West Ham United academy graduate Mich’el Parker will grasp the opportunity the Fir Park club have provided him.
Parker – who has been without a club since leaving West Ham United in 2020 – has signed a six-month deal with the cinch Premiership side. He hasn’t played any competitive senior football but has been on the books of Arsenal, Liverpool and West Ham as a youngster.
Still only 22, Alexander says the former West Ham United player is working on his fitness: “I wouldn’t say this is his last chance, he’s only 22. Each player can make what they want their career to be. He’s started at an extremely high level in the Premier League and there will be a lot of players who won’t make it at that level.
“It doesn’t mean it’s the end of your career. It’s important that they grasp any opportunity they get after that. Mich’el has been with us for a few months to try and earn a contract. He wants to kickstart his career and he certainly has the ability to do that. His condition wasn’t great when he came in, but he has worked on it.
“He still isn’t where we’d want him to be as a first-team player. He’s working hard and we will give him a chance. There’s a good player within him. But there’s lots more to being a professional footballer and he needs to add that.”
Motherwell face Airdrieonians in the first senior match between the rivals since 2007. A third win in Premier Sports Cup Group F will all but seal Motherwell’s place in the last 16 of the competition, and having faced Hamilton twice since arriving at Fir Park in January, Alexander says he wasn’t aware of the North Lanarkshire rivalry.
He said: “I didn’t know the rivalry until I came to the club. Last season playing Hamilton twice, those were the big ones. When the cup draw was made, I found out that the history between Motherwell and Airdrie goes back a long time. I expect a good match with both sets of supporters trying to get the upper hand.
“We want to win the game and that is the biggest thing. We’ll have that ambition in every game. We want to progress but we aren’t there yet. There’s a few things we need to improve on performance-wise. We have to constantly improve.”
Alexander still wants to introduce players to his squad, both from the treatment room and in the form of new signings. But there is little room to rotate against Airdrie: “I would rotate if I could but we only have two centre-back’s! Ricki Lamie is just coming back from an illness and he’s getting his fitness through games.
“Darragh O’Connor has come in. He’s a young player and can go every day, so there’s no problems there. Ideally we would like to swap them about, as there is a risk. If we can get them through these games fit that would be great.
“Stephen O’Donnell has only had 10 days off (due to involvement with Scotland at Euro 2020). But he just wants to run and run. We need to protect him from himself and there’s a couple we need to manage through the next couple of weeks. Players love playing games.”
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