Motherwell have to cope with the pressure of 50,000 Rangers fans when travelling to a packed Ibrox this Sunday, according to manager Graham Alexander.
The Fir Park club have won their last three Scottish Premiership matches and could go top of the league this weekend with a win, and if Hearts and Hibs both fail to win their respective matches. But as Rangers unfurl last season’s title-winning flag at Ibrox with no ‘Well fans allowed to attend the match, Alexander knows it’ll be a challenging trip.
But he’s backing his players to rise to the occasion: “This is part of the game, if you don’t want to be in these games, you are in the wrong sport. We want to be at the highest level we can be to experience and compete and win in these games. So you’ve got to relish it rather than be concerned about it.
“And, to be fair, knowing my players, I think they will relish the challenge. We have not bowed in any challenge so far since we came in. We know how tough it will be but we haven’t had an easy game yet and we don’t expect one, certainly not on Sunday. But we are used to making it difficult for ourselves in training.
“The way we train with each other makes it difficult in preparation for the game. The atmosphere will be intense and it has to be handled by everybody on the day, but we have to focus on what we do with and without the ball, and if we do that right then we give ourselves the best chance of winning.”
While not focusing on the potential league table position, Alexander knows it’s a testament to how much his new squad have developed in a short space of time: “The league table is irrelevant – it’s about the point tally. Being up there is good, but if we weren’t up there, I’d be saying judge us on the end of the season.
“We haven’t achieved anything yet and we haven’t achieved any of our targets. We just want to improve throughout the team – because it is a new team. There are a lot of new players. I feel, I see, slight improvements each week. If you can win while in this period, then great. But it’s about the points tally.”
Meanwhile, captain Stephen O’Donnell is available for selection. He missed last weekend’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen but Alexander says keeping the Scotland international out of the match has allowed him to make the trip to Ibrox: “Stephen has trained this week. He trained last Friday before the game but I just felt it was too much to ask.
“He had been ill a couple of times, he came off in the Scotland game, so I felt it was better for him to miss out last week. But he has trained fully this week, he’s raring to go. We’ve got another good player available for selection.”
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