McGhee: losing experienced defenders Hammell and McManus against Celts was a body blow

Mark McGhee is sent to main stand at Pittodrie on Wednesday night (Pic by Craig Williamson)
Mark McGhee is sent to main stand at Pittodrie on Wednesday night (Pic by Craig Williamson)

Motherwell gaffer Mark McGhee said the loss of Stevie Hammell to a hip injury in the warm-up and Stephen McManus to a groin problem after just six minutes were body blows for Motherwell at Celtic Park on Saturday.

“Losing the two players was obviously disappointing,” said McGhee after the 2-0 defeat.

“What we do feel though is that we have a stronger squad than we’ve had of lateand that therefore we do have people on the bench we can bring on.

“So we are in a better situation than we might have been halfway through the first part of the season.

“Given that, absolutely I’m happy with the boys that came in. Joe (Chalmers) struggled with Forrest at the second goal but there’s not a fullback in Scotland that will live with him at that moment with his pace and his energy and his directness.

“So we’ve got to forgive Joe for that. Zak gave away the penalty. Obviously it was clumsy.

“He is a 19-year-old boy from Reading reserves. He has not played real first team football at this level and certainly never played anywhere like this.

“I said to him: ‘You’re going to make mistakes and I’m going to forgive you’ because that’s part and parcel of what we buy when we bring you in.

“He showed there was a touch of the Roy Aitkens with those charging overlapping centre half runs that he showed in the second half. Overall I was pleased.”

McGhee was heartened by his side’s second half performance, adding: “We were in the game. We held our own.

“I thought Craig Clay was fantastic. But overall, you come here, the form they’re in, the mood they’be been in recently.

“You are disappointed to lose any game. But there are a lot of positives for us going into the coming games.”

McGhee feels that Celtic could well go through the entire season unbeaten, although he stressed that if Aberdeen play as well as they did in beating Motherwell 7-2 on Wednesday night then they could well defeat the Hoops.

And he confirmed that former ’Well assistant boss Steve Robinson – sacked as Oldham Athletic gaffer recently – will be returning to the club as first team coach until the end of the season.