Motherwell manager Graham Alexander believes Charles Dunne has shown ‘character’ and ‘personality’ after his return to the Fir Park matchday squad.

The defender has been out of action since the early stages of the 2019/20 season through injury and spent a total of 595 days away from game involvement. While he did not appear in the 1-0 Scottish Premiership win over St Mirren last Saturday, Alexander was thrilled for him.

Motherwell v Annan Athletic - Scottish League Cup

Dunne has returned. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Dunne has to contribute on the park as well as off it, however, the Motherwell boss knows he must be careful: “He’s had a real tough time with injury. He has been training around the squad since I came in and stepped up a little bit more about a month ago.

“He’s still a bit short of match practice but we felt going into last week’s squad we needed a team full of togetherness and personality. Charles gives us that and we know we can call upon him to play. His influence around the group is good.

“The better characters we have, the more strength that we have in the mindset throughout the team, the better we are on the pitch. He didn’t get on but he contributed to the result. It’s not all about how you play, it’s how you train, how you interact as a team member, how you are when it is not going your way.

Celtic v Motherwell - Betfred League Cup Final

Overcame adversity. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“Your personality and character is going to be challenged throughout the season. We need people around the club that take on challenges and overcome them. He epitomizes what we need in a team player and we felt we needed more of that. You have to take into account he has missed a considerable amount of time training, never mind playing.

“We don’t take unnecessary risks with players. He contributes what we need in the changing room, in the warm-up. But ultimately he is going to have to get on that pitch and show what he can do. It’s still very early doors but he’s doing everything right off the pitch to continue making steps forward.”

Motherwell take to Scottish Cup round four action on Friday night against Greenock Morton, looking to book a quarter-final slot against either Stranraer or Hibs. Some have said the competition has opened up with either Celtic or Rangers to head out this weekend but Alexander isn’t getting carried away.

Motherwell v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Focused on the task ahead. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

He said: “It’s about winning the next game. The games are so intense and competitive that if you aren’t 100% focused on that, you are going to let yourselves down. The biggest thing for us is getting the result. When we have looked too far ahead -when we have come off that focus – it’s hurt us.

“I think gradually the squad are learning on how to focus on one game at a time. We need to make sure – like we did in the third round against Formartine United – that our mentality is spot on. 5-0 looks comfortable but we had to work hard for our first goal. Then after the first we controlled. But we did all the hard stuff first and we will have to do that against Morton.”

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