Former Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough reckons that Lionel Ainsworth can be a sensation for Plymouth Argyle in England’s League One.
Bara, who managed Ainsworth at ’Well between 2014 and 2015, told the Motherwell Times that he has no doubts that the 29-year-old winger can cut it at that level after leaving Fir Park on a free transfer this week when he rejected the Steelmen’s contract offer.
“I think if Lionel applies himself right he has the potential to play at an even higher level than English League One,” said Leicester-born Baraclough (46).
“But he has got to knuckle down and make sure he works hard. Everyone knows about Lionel’s attacking prowess and his change of pace when he takes players on.
“He can provide goals and score goals.
“When Lionel is on top of his game he would be an asset to any team in League One.
“It is just his consistency that is lacking.
“That is what has held him back.
“He started off his career playing at a high level with Derby County and Watford but never produced his top form for a long enough period.
“If he had done, he would still be playing for a club at that high level.”
Ainsworth, who made 142 appearances for Motherwell between 2013 and 2017, scored 27 goals in that period including the vital second in the recent 3-1 win over Kilmarnock which preserved ’Well’s Scottish Premiership status.
But he has now joined newly promoted Plymouth – managed by former Motherwell midfielder Derek Adams – with the length of contract undisclosed.
Meanwhile, Baraclough, who gained cult status among Motherwell fans after steering the team to a memorable 6-1 aggregate Premiership play-off win over Rangers two years ago, has revealed that the opportunity to become Northern Ireland under-21 manager was one he simply couldn’t turn down.
Baraclough, who took over this month after quitting as Oldham Athletic assistant manager, said: “I’m delighted to get the Northern Ireland under-21s job.
“To work on the international stage is something I didn’t think I could turn down.
“I feel as though it is a step up, where I want to be and a definite progression.
“It will help my education as a coach, as a manager.
“We haven’t had any games yet.
“We had a training camp the week just gone and fly to Estonia next weekend for our first qualifier in the Euros.
“I enjoyed my time at Oldham but I perhaps felt that John Sheridan (Oldham manager) wanted to bring in one of his own men as well.”