Motherwell defender Ricki Lamie knows from experience he will need to fully concentrate when he comes up against former team-mate Lawrence Shankland on Boxing Day.
Lamie played with the Dundee United forward when the pair were at Morton together in the second half of the 2016-17 season.
Both have taken big steps forward in their career since and Shankland got back to goalscoring ways during United’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock on Wednesday, which moved them above Well and into fifth place in the Premiership.
“He’s just a natural finisher and they are hard to come by,” Lamie said.
“That’s why there’s all the speculation around him and rightly so. He’s also had his recognition in the national side, rightly so.
“He was low in confidence and trying to find his way, wondering what his next step was going to be at the time, but you could see in training his quality was shining through. A natural finisher and a great lad into the bargain.
“It’s the sign of a quality finisher that you see him sometimes drift through games and the next thing he’s popped up with the winner.
“He’s a quality player and I think he’s added a lot to his game since I played with him.
“His hold-up play and his wee touches round the corner are very clever. He buys fouls. He deserves the recognition he’s getting.”
Motherwell have not won since Halloween, but a goalless draw against Aberdeen on Wednesday earned them a first clean sheet since that victory over Livingston and came after they had frustrated Rangers for 72 minutes at Ibrox.
Lamie said: “We’ve touched on that and I think that in any level of football, if you defend well you’re always guaranteed at least a point.
“Defensively, another clean sheet is pleasing and it’s something to build on going into the next couple of fixtures.
“I can’t remember many clear chances to Aberdeen and at Ibrox it was the same until the last 15-20 minutes.
“We limited, in terms of the league table, the best team in the country, so it’s something to build on and with the quality we’ve got, that’s the foundation to go and hurt teams as well.”
Lamie has been in a back three for the past two games after previously filling in at left-back and the former Livingston man admits he was delighted to see full-back Jake Carroll back on the bench on Wednesday after 10 months out.
“You fill in and I would be lying if I was saying it wasn’t a welcome sight seeing him come back,” the 27-year-old said.
“He’s a great lad and it’s been a long time because it was a really bad injury. He’s another experienced figure in the squad. I’m sure it won’t be long until he’s back on the pitch.”
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