|Motherwell boss Mark McGhee has no injury problems ahead of today's game against Celtic. However, David Clarkson and Bob Malcolm are both suspended for the game as the former completes a two-game ban and the latter is out for one game following his red card in the 1-0 win at Parkhead last weekend. Meanwhile midfielder Stephen Hughes is looking to help Motherwell move five points clear in third place with victory at Fir Park. That would make them clear favourites to seal the UEFA Cup place, a prospect Hughes could not have imagined he would be facing when he was struggling with Leicester in the Coca-Cola Championship last season. He admits watching his old team Rangers reach the UEFA Cup semi-finals has made him even more determined to return to European football. Hughes career appeared stalled in England but things have been getting better since his move to Motherwell in August. Watching Rangers overcome Sporting Lisbon on Thursday has given him an extra motivation to get into Europe with the Steelmen. Hughes said: "It does. I didn't think I would have a chance last season, when I was down south, to play in Europe again. We have still not got there. Dundee United, Hibs and Aberdeen will obviously have aspirations to get into Europe as well. But we have got a really good chance. But the main aim is we don't want to have a good season and then let it fizzle out. We need to concentrate and try to get this UEFA Cup spot. That's what the other teams will be striving for as well, but let's hope this is Motherwell's year."|
Motherwell won last week against Celtic and want to double that up at home. Hughes revealed there was confidence within the camp that Motherwell can consistently get results against the Old Firm. He said: "It's going to be a difficult game as it was last week, but it's one we will be going into with a bit of confidence after getting the result. Earlier on in the season we played Rangers and got a point and played really well and we could maybe have got three points out of that game. It will be difficult as it always is but it's certainly not beyond us. They will be wounded after last week so they will want to turn us over, but we will be up for the game."
A win for the visitors would leave Celtic still four points behind leaders Rangers, although the Ibrox side still have two games in hand. Defender Lee Naylor in pinning his hopes on Rangers' demanding run of big games proving too hard to handle and allow the SPL champions to hang onto their title. The Ibrox side's 2-0 UEFA Cup quarter-final win over Sporting Lisbon on Thursday night took them through to a semi-final against Fiorentina and keeps them on course to win four trophies this season. If Rangers were to go all the way in both cup competitions, it would mean a total of 14 games to play in a six-week period, six more than Celtic face. Naylor admits the congested fixture list which Rangers face could work in Celtic's favour. He said: "That's what we've got to count on. If they see us winning and getting the points, even though they've got games in hand, it's going to be difficult (for Rangers). We accept that someone else has got to do something to help us and we have to do our job at the same time, first and foremost. But we have belief. If you don't have that belief then you shouldn't be here. Everyone on that training field believes we can do it and we are trying hard to be where we want to be."
Celtic had enough chances to win the game last weekend when they were acting as hosts but could not take any. They will be looking to change that today when they travel to Fir Park. Naylor said: "We have been playing really good stuff recently but we are just not putting the ball in the back of the net. That's not just the strikers, that's everyone in the team. If you don't score the one or two chances that you have, then the onus goes back on you to defend. That's what you should be doing but a goal is creeping in now and again. Obviously we have to address that but at the same time address the issue of scoring goals."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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