McCall plays down Europe talk

PA Sport
Stuart McCall
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Stuart McCall

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall has played down the possibility of Champions League football at Fir Park for the first time next season.

The Lanarkshire club are third in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League behind Celtic and Rangers and harbour hopes of a Europa League spot. However, the Ibrox club went into administration on Tuesday and they face a race to meet certain financial criteria by March 31 in order to gain a European licence.

Failure to do so is likely to mean that a third-place finish in the SPL would bring with it a Champions League qualifying place. However, ahead of Saturday's home clash with fourth-placed Hearts, who trail Well by six points, McCall said: "If it did, it did. We don't think too much on that."

He added: "We can only do what we can on the park. We could be 12 points clear of Hearts next Thursday morning or three points clear, following our game in hand over Hibs next Wednesday night. If we could take maximum points in the next two games, we would be looking strong in third.

"What finishing third brings at the end of the season, we would have to wait and see. But we are not getting carried away with all this Champions League nonsense, if you like, because nobody knows what is going to happen.

"All we have to focus on is what is happening on the park and we have a huge game on Saturday, the biggest of our season. If we can manage to win that would put us nine points clear of them."

Asked if the automatic 10-point deduction suffered by Rangers, which leaves Ally McCoist's men trailing Celtic by 14 points, has ruined the traditional two-horse title race in Scotland, the former Rangers midfielder said: "I think so.

"Many people outside Ibrox would have said Celtic were looking strong favourites albeit there was only four points in it.

"Celtic have an outstanding winning run of 14, 15, 16 games or whatever it is now, which is a great credit to the manager and players who turned it round remarkably. But when there is four points in it you never know.

"Now there is 14 and without a doubt the title is over with, Celtic have wrapped that up, obviously their aim will be to go on and win the treble."

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