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Steven Hammell set for further talks about Motherwell vacancy after Saints test

Steven Hammell will take charge of his second Motherwell match (Jeff Holmes/PA)
Steven Hammell will take charge of his second Motherwell match (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Steven Hammell will have further discussions about the vacant Motherwell manager’s job next week but his full focus is on getting more points against St Johnstone.

It is understood the Fir Park board will draw up a shortlist on Saturday and Hammell will be on it after leading Well to victory over St Mirren in his first game in caretaker charge.

With the transfer deadline looming, the preferred option is to make a permanent appointment before Motherwell travel to Aberdeen on August 13.

Hammell is therefore determined to give himself every chance of success when the Perth side visit Fir Park on Saturday.

The club’s academy director said: “Myself, the chairman (Jim McMahon) and (chief executive) Alan Burrows had a chat about how we see things going forward and what we can do as a club to improve. It was a positive meeting.

“It was mostly about Saturday and where we see things. I don’t want it to be anything other than that. We need to perform on Saturday.

“The whole focus this week has just been the game and then we will take it from there. That’s genuine, absolutely everything I have done this week, everything we have done as a group this week, has been so that we can peak at three o’clock on Saturday.”

Apart from an 18-month stint at Southend, the 40-year-old has spent his entire career at Fir Park and is Motherwell’s post-war record appearance holder with 583 games.

The former Scotland international was careful not to make his pre-match media conference about his own ambitions but he again stressed his experience of working as head of the academy would stand him in good stead.

When asked what it would mean to be offered the manager’s job, he said: “I’m in a senior football position at the club and I’m grateful and privileged to be in the position I am just now.

“If that’s to then progress to the first-team manager, then fantastic. If that’s what the club want and they feel it’s the best thing for the club, it’s something I am prepared to do.”

Hammell has the advantage of knowing the club and squad inside out, as well as having the knowledge and inclination to promote youth players, something previous manager Graham Alexander did not seem to prioritise.

The former left-back’s desire to alter Motherwell’s style of play could also help him after Alexander’s functional approach failed to connect with many Well fans.

While recognising the resilience of his side to grind out a win against St Mirren after the trauma of defeat by Sligo Rovers and Alexander’s exit, he added that “we need to be more than that”.

“In and out of possession we need to be better,” he said. “Obviously the squad needs a little bit of tweaking, the balance isn’t quite where it should be, but we need to be more than we showed last Sunday.

“We are not saying we are going to be re-writing football here but we need to be more of a threat in the final third, we need to be creating more, we need to be more positive with our running, we need to be a little bit fitter and stronger.

“But this takes time. Whoever it is, it’s going to take time, but it’s a great job for someone and it’s a fantastic club to be involved with.”

Hammell is also limited by suspensions to Callum Slattery and Ricki Lamie, plus an injury doubt to Paul McGinn, while players who did not feature against Sligo or St Mirren are lacking in match sharpness after the club only played two pre-season friendlies.

“It’s been a challenge for us,” Hammell said. “We played a bounce game against Dundee on Tuesday and got minutes – much, much-needed minutes – into some of these boys’ legs.

“That has been a challenge because the levels they are at, naturally, aren’t where we want them to be in terms of being able to make wholesale changes. But we are getting there. It’s not a massive concern but ideally we would be in a better starting position.”