Liam Polworth admits he and his Motherwell team-mates took a major confidence boost from Steven Gerrard as they prepare to meet his Rangers side again.
Gerrard described Motherwell’s Ibrox performance as “outstanding” after his team came from behind to beat the Steelmen 2-1 in late October.
Motherwell have since won five matches and Polworth is relishing the chance to take on Rangers at Fir Park on Sunday after the Ibrox men reached the last 32 of the Europa League.
“It gives us a lot of confidence for someone of that stature to say that we played like that,” the midfielder said.
“I thought we were bitterly unlucky in that game. We ended up losing but I felt like we maybe gained a lot from the game in confidence from the way we carried out the game plan and we had a go.
“We know it’s a good opportunity for us. They have a busy week and we have a free week so we are determined to put our stamp on the game. I definitely think we’ve got a good chance and we will be determined to go out there and play well.”
While Gerrard’s words were a bonus, Polworth credits Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson with transforming his game following his summer move from Inverness.
“He told me at the start of the season I’d have to work a lot harder than I had probably worked before,” the 25-year-old said.
“It wasn’t something that I really bothered to do, which isn’t great to say, but it wasn’t a side of my game that I really enjoyed or even bothered to do. But it’s something that I know I have to do now and that I’m starting to enjoy.
“Even when I was younger I never really worked the way I have started to work now, and obviously that’s a lot to do with the gaffer. I wish I had done it years ago but it’s one of those things that comes in time and I owe the gaffer a lot.”
Robinson has been delighted with Polworth’s response.
“I remember the first day I got Liam in and I said to him ‘the one thing stopping you going higher in the game is your work ethic’,” the Motherwell boss said.
“And I’ve never had to speak to him since. He has taken it on board, he’s been a pivotal player for us this season.
“His quality on the ball is top, top class and in a game against Rangers you need people to stay on the ball, take touches, carry the ball up the pitch, and he’s one of our top players at that. We have been absolutely delighted with him this season.”
Polworth’s contribution has been evident from his stats with two goals and 12 assists to his name.
“That’s something I am delighted with in the end but I don’t feel it really makes much difference as long as the team is winning and I am playing and enjoying myself,” Polworth said.
“It’s something you don’t really think about at the start of the season. I just wanted to get in the team, keep myself in the team and enjoy playing football.”