Hamilton head coach Brian Rice was “completely shocked” to discover he would not be facing Stephen Robinson in Saturday’s Lanarkshire derby.
Robinson resigned as Motherwell manager after defeat by Kilmarnock on Wednesday left the Steelmen without a win in nine matches and two points above Accies at the foot of the Scottish Premiership.
Rice heard the news during his pre-match media conference and said: “I am really, really surprised. I know Stephen really well, he is a good man, a good football man, a good coach.
“That’s come as a complete shock to me. Should I be shocked in football? No, not really, but that has shocked me. He is a good man and that is a loss to Motherwell.
“They were third in the league last year and had a fantastic season.
“I am really disappointed because he is good football man. I have a lot of time for Stephen and we have a good friendship.”
Keith Lasley will take interim charge for Saturday’s clash at the Foys Stadium and his first task will be to turn around the recent derby form.
Accies have taken seven points from the last three meetings including a 1-0 win at Fir Park in August when Hakeem Odoffin headed a late winner after the visitors had soaked up sustained pressure before finding their own attacking groove.
Rice believes the traits that have seen them keep three clean sheets in six games will be crucial in the latest derby encounter.
“The key is defending properly,” he said. “Motherwell are a goal threat, they are always a goal threat. They have good attacking threats and we are wary of that.
“But we also think that there are always chances there for us and it’s making sure we are always in the game and taking the chances when they come along.”
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