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Strong midfield means selection dilemma for Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson court case
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson admits he faces one of his most difficult decisions in who to leave out of his midfield for their Scottish Premiership opener.

Regular midfielder trio Allan Campbell, Liam Donnelly and Liam Polworth were among Robinson’s most consistent performers as Motherwell finished third last season.

But Mark O’Hara broke into the team before lockdown and impressed enough to prompt the club to spend money to make his loan move from Peterborough a permanent deal.

David Turnbull is also thrown into the mix after making the first steps of his comeback before lockdown from the knee issue that scuppered his £3million move to Celtic.

Barry Maguire also played the bulk of Motherwell’s last game, a 1-1 draw with Hearts on March 7.

When asked if selecting three midfielders for Monday’s clash with Ross County in Dingwall will be among his most difficult decisions, Robinson said: “Yes it is and whoever I don’t pick it’s going to be very hard to look them in the eye and say ‘you have not done enough or played well’.

“I’m trying to find a formation to put all six of them in the team.

“They have been our most consistent performers.

“It makes the decision difficult but you would rather be in that position. That’s what I get paid for – to make difficult decisions.

“I’m not going to keep everybody happy with the squad we have got and especially on the midfield area.

“That’s football – if you’re going to play at a club that’s been third in the league and people have aspirations to go to bigger clubs in higher leagues, then that’s how it works.

“It’s bigger squads and people competing with each other. So they just have to get used to it.”

Turnbull underwent a minor follow-up operation after football was suspended but has been fully involved in pre-season.

The 21-year-old, who scored 15 goals in 30 games in the 2018-19 league campaign, may be phased back into the team.

“In training he looks fantastic,” Robinson said. “Our biggest problem has been our lack of games. We have only had four games. Usually we maybe have nine before the start of the season, which means everybody gets 90 minutes.

“David’s injury is perfect, his fitness level in terms of running is perfect. It’s just game time, minutes and legs now.

“Getting game time over this Covid-19-influenced pre-season has been very difficult for everybody.

“So it will be a case of trying to get minutes in his legs now, whether that’s at Ross County or that’s bringing him in and out and giving him another few weeks. But certainly ability wise, that hasn’t gone.”