First strike will be vital against Hearts, says Stuart McCall

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MOTHERWELL boss Stuart McCall has urged his players to strike the first blow against Hearts when they meet in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at Fir Park today.

The Steelmen’s impressive 5-1 win at Inverness last weekend took them up to fourth in the table, but their healthy league position is no thanks to their home form.

Motherwell supporters have enjoyed only one victory in Lanarkshire this season, a 4-1 SPL win against Inverness in September, but McCall is looking for his players to improve that record against the Jambos.

“We scored three at Aberdeen and St Johnstone and two at Kilmarnock and Dundee, so we haven’t had a problem scoring goals on our travels,” he said.

“The performances at home have been similar to the away performances, it’s just that we haven’t got the first goal or scored when we have been on top.

“Looking back at games against Hibs, Dundee United and Dundee, we had excellent opportunities to take the lead but didn’t, be it through bad finishing, good goalkeeping or decisions against us. We know home results have not been good enough and we have got to look to change that.

“It’s not as black and white as getting the first goal, but it would certainly help.

“I think we had 72 per cent possession against Dundee and chances and they break down the park and score and all of a sudden the crowd get a bit tense, the players get slightly anxious so it would be nice to go ahead in games at home.

“That wouldn’t mean to say we would down tools and think it was all over because that wouldn’t be the case, the games are that tight.

“Between us and Hearts three or four weeks ago, it was a 25-yard screamer that split the teams, so it would be nice to nick a 1-0 when it was a tight game.”

McCall has begun to look towards next season in terms of his squad, “starting with the younger ones” but admits he does not yet know what budget will be available.

Chris Humphrey is one player who is out of contract in the summer but the 25-year-old Jamaica winger would be keen to extend his stay in Lanarkshire.

“If they want to sit down and talk to me, I would be happy to do that,” said the former Shrewsbury Town player.

“I love the club. It’s my fourth season here, I have kids and we are settled, so I would be quite happy to talk.”