Stephen Robinson hailed Bevis Mugabi for winning a long-term deal at Motherwell – then warned the defender he is not guaranteed to keep his place in the Fir Park line-up.
Uganda international Mugabi was signed on a short-term contract back in September after centre-back Charles Dunne was forced to undergo groin surgery.
But the 24-year-old has performed so well he has convinced Well boss Robinson to now hand him an extended deal stretching to the summer of 2021.
However, with new Scotland cap Declan Gallagher also impressing, the Northern Irishman has told Mugabi he must maintain his current standards if he wants to ensure Dunne does not walk back into the team come January.
He told the Steelmen’s YouTube channel: “We’ve only had Bevis for a short period of time. We got quite lucky because Charles got injured the same day we had Bevis in on trial. We were able to find the money to go and do it when we got the injury.
“We are delighted to get somebody who has calibre at that stage of the season. In the two games (at Celtic and Rangers) he came through very difficult games. And I think he acquitted himself very well.
“But he’s under no illusions that he’s got a real fight on his hands to stay in the team.”
Gallagher was a stand-out for Steve Clarke’s Scots as he made his first two international appearances against Cyprus and Kazakhstan earlier this week.
And Robinson believes Clarke should put his faith in the 28-year-old when the Scots bid to claim a Euro 2020 slot in next March’s play-off clashes.
“He certainly didn’t look out of place, as he’s come in and told me this morning,” joked the Well manager. “It’s brilliant for the boy’s confidence.
“I thought Deccy’s performances were very, very assured for Scotland.
“Maybe there’s a partnership there (with Scott McKenna) that gives Steve something to think about.”
Well will provide the opposition at Easter Road as Jack Ross takes charge of Hibernian for the first time on Saturday.
Former Leith boss Paul Heckingbottom was axed earlier this month after winning just one of his 11 games in charge this season but Robinson says his side are not fooled by that woeful run.
He said: “Hibs have a high calibre of players and spent a lot of money putting the squad together. They’ve got a lot of talent in the squad.
“So we definitely go there having to be at the top of our game as usual. But we don’t go there with any kind of fear.
“We defeated them already this season with a good result, and people were at the top of the game to get that result. And we’re going to need that again.”
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