11 August 2023

Stuart Kettlewell says Mika Biereth may be involved for Motherwell against Hibs

11 August 2023

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell hopes to introduce on-loan Arsenal striker Mika Biereth for a potential debut in Sunday’s cinch Premiership encounter with Hibernian.

With Jon Obika still doubtful with a hamstring issue, Theo Bair produced a goalscoring debut in last weekend’s draw with Dundee and Denmark Under-21 international Biereth could come into contention for Motherwell’s first home game of the league season.

Kettlewell said: “He has trained the tail end of last week, he got two sessions in, and he has trained this week as well.

“He missed a couple of weeks at Arsenal so it’s just a case of us trying to get as much content into him as we can, work away with him over the next couple of days.

“But I am fairly certain that he pushes himself into the reckoning of at least being involved in the squad.”

Amid a shortage of experienced attacking options, Joe Efford replaced Bair in the 88th minute at Dens Park for his first appearance since suffering a thigh tear in October last year.

Efford has played most of his football in Scotland as a wide player and it appears he has some work to do to convince Kettlewell he can fit into his 3-5-2 system.

“The most important part is that Joe needs to stay fit and show us his qualities,” Kettlewell said. “It’s been a hard time for him, a long-term injury and then from that there’s been a lot of stop-start moments.

“There has been a lot of inconsistency, I am sure Joe will hold his hand up to that as well, in reserve games, games to get back to full fitness, pre-season and even in training sessions.

“I am always a great believer that we can’t just go from zero to full throttle, there has to be a period of time where an individual shows you that they can be trusted and that they are offering something on the pitch, they are showing you quality and that they can play in your system.

“He gets his opportunity to come on at Dens Park and that was specifically we were lacking striker options.”

Kettlewell is still looking to move players on in order to bring some in and the process of trimming his squad means the club will no longer compete in the SPFL Reserve League.

“We had more than 50 players at the club last season,” Kettlewell said.

“I feel that everyone who is at the football club must have a realistic opportunity to play in your first team.

“For us to run with another 15-16 players that aren’t pushing to be in your first team, it’s not sustainable for a club like Motherwell.

“We have had to trim that and our focus comes on the under-18s group and the loan system.

“We have four or five with potentially more going out on loan. I have asked a member of staff to focus on that and make sure we are finding the correct loans for players so when they come back it gives them a real chance to play in our first team.

“A lot of the under-18s have been part of our first-team group over pre-season and you see the obvious ones on the bench and in the starting 11.”

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