Lasley: Here's your chance lads
Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley has urged the club's young players to seize their chance amid adversity just like former Fir Park heroes such as James McFadden. With Paul Quinn looking likely to sign for Cardiff City and Brian McLean completing a move to Falkirk today, new Well manager Jim Gannon has only 11 experienced players for tomorrow's Europa League qualifier against Llanelli.
The significant recent exodus from Fir Park, coupled with the financial uncertainty in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League caused by the collapse of Setanta, should result in youth getting their chance, from the bench at least. While Gannon has shown a willingness to do just that in his previous role at Stockport, necessity could also give birth to new careers for some Motherwell youngsters.
The same situation occurred when the club went into administration in April 2002, shedding 19 players, and accelerating the progress of future Scotland players such as McFadden, Stephen Pearson, Stevie Hammell and David Clarkson, who left this week for Bristol City. Lasley himself emerged as a first-team regular at Fir Park during the 2001-02 season and he hopes more youngsters can follow suit.
"We had a big squad at that point and a lot of young players maybe weren't getting a chance," Lasley said. "Unfortunately it took the club going into administration for them to start pushing a lot of younger players through maybe quicker than they would.
"Out of that came McFadden, Pearson, Hammell, guys that have all moved on, and more recently Clarkson. It's definitely the way football is going, especially in Scotland, with more and more emphasis on youth development," he said.
"I'm sure we'll definitely be pushing that again this year. There are definitely a few good young boys at the club."
Seven of the players who started the final match of last season are not available for the first-leg match at Airdrie's Excelsior Stadium. Gannon is looking to add to the squad in the coming days with out-of-contract Tranmere midfielder Steven Jennings being linked with a move to Lanarkshire.
But the former Stockport manager revealed after his first two training sessions that some of the less experienced players had outshone the first-team regulars, and Lasley agrees there are some good prospects coming through.
The 29-year-old said: "We've definitely lost a few players in terms of the squad size, but it's up to the younger ones who are coming in to fill those gaps. The 11 that are picked I'm sure will be capable of going out to win the game.
"That's obviously what we're looking to do, and after that I'm sure the manager will be looking to strengthen the squad and bring players in," he said. "Up until that point, it's up to the players that are here to make sure we perform and that starts on Thursday."