Motherwell boss Stuart McCall avoiding contract talks

By John BarnesBBC Scotland
Stuart McCall
McCall's side will face St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall is putting all contract talk on hold until after this weekend's Scottish Cup semi-final with St Johnstone.

Several first-team regulars are nearing the end of their deals, including John Sutton and captain Stephen Craigan.

"I don't think it's the time this week to be talking contracts," said McCall.

"We did say that, if we got to top six, that would occur, but this game on Saturday is far too important to be hazed by any contract negotiations."

Motherwell are looking to appear in the final of domestic football's premier knock-out competition for the first time since 1991.

The Motherwell players who are out of contract in the summer are Stephen Craigan, Steve Jennings, John Sutton, Maurice Ross, reserve goalkeeper Lee Hollis, Esteban Casagolda.

The short term deal of January signing Francis Jeffers expires at the end of the season as does the loan period of Gavin Gunning from Blackburn Rovers, but McCall would not be drawn further on individual deals.

"Next week will be the time to sit down with the players and hopefully they'll be in a stronger bargaining position if they can get to a final," said McCall.

The Motherwell manager also admitted that he expects training this week to have an added edge as players compete for places at Hampden on Saturday.

"Come Saturday, we're going to have a fully-fit squad to pick from - probably for the first time this season," said McCall.

"So it's come as a good time, going in off the back of a run of good form. We've had some good results and the lads are playing at the top of their game - so that's good from a manager's point of view.

"I'm just a bit wary of training this week - as I'm going to have some tough decisions to make.

"But there's going to be an edge to training this week - there's no doubt about that - when semi-finals and cup finals come about, the training level moves up one and everyone is looking to impress."

Meanwhile, Well striker Jamie Murphy was presented with the Scottish Cup player of the sixth round award ahead of Saturday's encounter with St Johnstone at Hampden.

Murphy scored Motherwell's opener in the 3-0 replay victory over Dundee United to seal the Lanarkshire club's place in the semi-final and is keen to play his part in Saturday's match.

"It's always good to get recognised for what you're doing on the park, so hopefully I can play well in the semi-final and manage to get us through," said Murphy.

"If you win at the next round, you've in the final game and I would take that.

"We played there earlier in the year and we know that we can do well on the big stage, so we're all looking forward to it.

"Training will be good this week and the manager will have everyone going."

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