Defensive options improve for McCall

PA Sport
Shaun Hutchinson was cleared to play in Motherwell's friendly win over Hamilton
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Shaun Hutchinson was cleared to play in Motherwell's friendly win over Hamilton

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall saw his defensive options for their Champions League debut improve markedly after Shaun Hutchinson made his first appearance of pre-season following the signing of Simon Ramsden.

With Steven Saunders and Jonathan Page ruled out of the Fir Park clash against Panathinaikos through injury, the only signed centre-back that McCall had on Tuesday morning was 19-year-old Adam Cummins, who made one first-team appearance last season.

But high demand for tickets for next Tuesday's game allowed the Motherwell board to sign Ramsden on a one-year contract and Hutchinson then came through 45 minutes of Motherwell's 3-0 victory at Hamilton. Hutchinson trained on his own last week after a groin problem delayed his return to training.

McCall, who lost experienced defenders Stephen Craigan and Tim Clancy in the summer, said: "I'll have to wrap him up in cotton wool but we have actually got another bounce game on Friday and he might get part of that. I'd be hopeful. I thought he looked strong and that was encouraging."

McCall feared he would not be able to make any summer signings once the Rangers newco was consigned to the Irn-Bru Third Division so he was delighted to secure Ramsden, who captained Bradford under the former Scotland midfielder.

"We needed to bring him in," McCall said.

"I'm pleased we have managed to bring one in and I would imagine it will be only one. I thought I had won the lottery when I got Ramsden in.

"I think it was the queue outside the ticket office the other day that managed to get us over the line. No, I think the board realised the people we have lost in defensive areas, that we needed to bring somebody in."

Birmingham centre-back Fraser Kerr also got a run-out against Hamilton and the 19-year-old, who began his career at Fir Park, could yet sign a loan deal.

"I will have a look at big Fraser, again that will be a financial thing," McCall said.

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