Motherwell manager Graham Alexander is desperate to keep Allan Campbell beyond the summer – but he knows that will be a tough ask as the 22-year-old hits 150 appearances.
The midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season and returned to the ‘Well starting XI after illness in the 0-0 midweek draw with St Mirren. He’s a key player for Alexander, the likes of Millwall linked with his name and the Fir Park club rejecting offers for his services in January.
While he’d love to keep Campbell long-term, the Motherwell manager knows he faces a tough time keeping the ‘shining’ academy example: “Without wanting to sound like his dad, I love him to bits. He’s everything a professional footballer should be.
“His dedication to the game, his team, what he puts in, he should be a shining example for every other pro that sees him work. He is highly-rated, he plays every week, and that’s because of what he does off the pitch.
“Whatever he achieves he will certainly have earned. To get to 150 appearances at his age is fantastic. It’s a marker to the way his parents have brought him up and the way the club have brought him through. There’s a lot of credit to be passed around but ultimately it’s down to the player.
“It’ll be extremely difficult to keep him and we know that. We understand everyone’s ambition in football, I was a player myself. Motherwell have a history of maximising a players potential and letting them fly away in the right circumstances.
“January it wasn’t the right circumstances. Allan gave me the assurance that if he was to stay until the end of the season, he wouldn’t change his approach in any way. And that hasn’t changed. For younger players at Motherwell, you can see Barry Maguire going in the same vein with how he approaches his profession, Max Johnston has a similar outlook. It’s great to see.”
Campbell may have returned on Wednesday but Motherwell still have no fewer than 14 players out injured, some of which are long-term. Trevor Carson, Liam Donnelly, Scott Fox and Charles Dunne have been out long-term while Bevis Mugabi, Liam Grimshaw, Mark O’Hara and many others remain out too.
Captain Declan Gallagher is back training but the situation won’t ease ahead of Saturday’s Premiership match with Hibs: “No, I haven’t known an injury list like it. Basically I think last week we had a squad injured, it was frightening really, all senior players. We had six in the squad last week that had one appearance between them and I defy any team not to be affected by that at this level.
“It’s something that we try to find answers to. There are all sorts of reasons and we have to dig deep for the detail. But certainly we can’t afford that to happen again, certainly not this season and any time going forward. It’s been a concern for us because it’s been very abnormal to say the least.
“I think it’s 14 who are injured at the moment so it’s down from last week which is a positive. But it’s still a really abnormal number. Even though we’ve only got eight games left we still can’t take unnecessary risks with players that if they come back and drop out again we’ve lost them for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got massive games coming up and we need everyone available so hopefully we’ll keep them as fit as they can be. We are slowly getting lads tentatively back out on the grass. But because of the injury situation that we’ve had this whole year, we have to be very careful bringing people back in and making sure that when they do come back in they stay in, as in full-time training.
“So we just have to approach that the right way. It’s good to have good players returning because it only strengthens our case to win games. Declan Gallagher is back out on the training pitch, which is good, and we’re assessing him every day because we don’t want to take unnecessary risks with such an important player.”
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