It’s been a good week for Stephen Robinson, the Motherwell manager watching his injury problems begin to disappear and his adopted nation progress to Euro 2020.
The Well are back on Saturday as they travel to St Johnstone in Premiership action, a dress rehearsal for the League Cup last 16 meeting between the pair at Fir Park on November 28.
Before the international break, Robinson was down to the ‘bare bones.’ But now outside of Charles Dunne and Jake Carroll, several key men will return at McDiarmid Park, Carroll getting closer to full fitness after an achilles injury earlier this year.
“It’s strange in the two weeks of international duty because you’re not playing for anything,” explained Robinson, “But the motivation has certainly been there to get fitter, to get our injuries back again, so we’ve been able to do quite a lot of work.
“The international boys, Allan Campbell and Barry Maguire, only came into the fold yesterday. Stephen O’Donnell and Declan Gallagher were back in this morning, so we haven’t had a chance to see them or even how they are at this moment in time.
“The other boys have worked hard, we’ve used the time wisely and got everybody back fit again, so hopefully we have almost a fully fit squad to choose from.
“Bevis Mugabi is back and we’ve been quite lucky with him because he’s been able to train non-contact for most of the time he’s been out, so fitness levels won’t be a problem.
“When we first seen the specialist we feared an operation. He hasn’t had to do that which obviously reduces the recovery time so it’s probably on par with where we thought he would be.
“Ricki Lamie is back this week so he’s done a little bit less, but he’s available, Sherwin Seedorf has done a little bit less but again is available. Everybody bar Jake Carroll, Charles Dunne and Harry Robinson, who was injured at Queen of the South, we’re gradually getting people back.
“Jake’s been running. I’m trying to get him to join in proper training but the physio is being careful with him which is right. We can’t rush when he’s been out this long. An extra few weeks won’t hurt anyone.
“It’ll make sure we don’t have any reoccurrences of the injury. We will be delighted to have him back.”
Robinson has watched with pride over the last week as two of his key men, Gallagher and O’Donnell, helped Scotland achieve Euro 2020 qualification next summer.
He believes it’s a great step for Scottish football but doesn’t make his task of keeping them at Motherwell any easier: “I’m absolutely delighted for Scotland. I think I am becoming more patriotic the more I stay here!
“I had the Northern Ireland game on the big TV but my partner had it (Scotland v Serbia) on the iPad. I was made to make sure I was trying to sing Flower of Scotland and celebrate the penalties.
“It’s great for everyone involved. I seen it with Northern Ireland, the money it brings into the game, the publicity it brings. We always criticise ourselves, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
“We take the mick out ourselves so it’s nice that there can’t be negativity. If players do well they get interest. We’re a team that move players on all the time, there’s a massive turnover of players, so we’ll worry about that when it comes.
“I’m not surprised with the attention that particularly Declan is getting, his performance against Aleksandar Mitrovic in the Serbia game was top class, so that’s a credit to him.
“He has to keep doing that, not resting on his laurels, and that’s what both of them have to do. We’ve given them a platform to play football, and it’s up to other people to come and take them off us – it certainly won’t be us marketing them anywhere.
“So while they’re here we’ll be using them to our full benefit and as it stands no-one’s come anywhere near us for that, and long may it continue.”