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Motherwell boss Graham Alexander happy to make the most of the break

Graham Alexander File Photo
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander opted against giving his players any extra time off during the international break as he looks to build on their win at Aberdeen.

Alexander’s side bounced back at Pittodrie from a run which saw them take one cinch Premiership point from a possible 15 and culminated in a 6-1 defeat by Rangers.

Double goalscorer Kevin van Veen drops out through suspension following the 2-0 win over the Dons but Alexander has been focused on trying to replicate that performance when they host Hearts on Saturday.

“We try to use the international break wisely and productively, rather than a break,” he said.

“So we have worked on a few things with the players, because the last result was an excellent result but we know there is a lot of work still to be done, and we don’t want to come off that.

“We worked exceptionally hard in the week leading up to Aberdeen so we have to maintain that to the end of the season, because we want to replicate that performance as often as possible.

“We didn’t want to pat ourselves on the back after one good result and then think everything was rosy in the garden. It’s important that we understand there are still improvements to be made.

“It was a great start to our recovery after the month we had, but there’s a lot of tough games coming up.

“It was just making sure we clarify how we play well, how we are hard to beat, and then go and replicate it as often as possible in training, and the training will lead into the games.”

The Pittodrie win saw Barry Maguire return to the starting line-up for the first time in three months and the midfielder is also eager to continue the momentum.

“I was a bit unfortunate, I had a couple of wee niggles here and there, which isn’t like me at all, but I know what it takes to get back in the team and I know how hard it is to get back in the team,” Maguire said. “Hopefully I have done enough to stay in the team.

“It’s not really enjoyable being on the side but it’s part and parcel.

“The main thing is patience, because there’s not much you can do. The boys were doing well, getting results.”

Maguire appreciated the advice on hand from Alexander when he was out of the team.

“At the start of the season a couple of times I wasn’t sure but he is really approachable and he would even tell you himself ‘come and see me’,” the 23-year-old said.

“He will give you reasons and be honest about it. It’s just clarification, getting told what you need to do to get back in the team, and it focuses on yourself as well, so it’s good.”

Meanwhile, Alexander revealed Liam Donnelly was not training because of injury.

The Northern Ireland international has not played since September after returning in July from the knee injury which kept him out for virtually the whole of last season.

“Unfortunately he has picked up a couple of little niggles this season,” Alexander said. “We get him up to a certain level and he just takes a step backwards unfortunately.

“He has had a long time out, we understand that, but ultimately we need him out on the pitch and fully functioning. But it’s not a major one.”

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