MOTHERWELL defender Tom Hateley says it is time for Motherwell to take the next step and qualify for Europe’s elite competitions.
’Well have twice previously reached the qualifying stages of the Europa League, only to have lost interest in proceedings by the time the group stages were being drawn.
This season they failed to progress in the Champions League qualifiers at the hands of Panathinaikos, but parachuted into the final Europa League qualifying round.
They were paired with European debutantes La Liga’s Levante who visit Fir Park tomorrow (Thursday).
With St Johnstone and Dundee United already out of European this season, Hateley is determined not to suffer the same fate.
He said: “We have been in the qualifying rounds of the European competitions for a few seasons now and it is frustrating that we haven’t been able to take the next step into the tournaments proper.
“It’s tough to take. Scottish teams always seem to get to the last couple of qualifying rounds, but never quite make it and I really don’t know why.
“Look at Dundee United this season. They did okay at home in the first leg, but were outclassed away.
“Similarly in Athens, we felt we kept the ball quite well and then next thing we’re three goals down. They’re just that bit more ruthless in front of goal.”
Despite the need for goals Hateley understands that being too gung-ho could be asking for trouble.
He said: “It will obviously be a hard game and we are under no illusions that they’ll be a good team.
“They will be technically useful and pass the ball around, looking to keep us chasing for 90 minutes, but that’s something we’ll be looking to avoid.
“European games are always touch and go - do you go for it in the first leg and possibly leave yourself open to being out of the tie come the second?
“It’s a tough one to approach, but I’m sure the gaffer will know how he wants us to set up.”
’Well will be without centre half Simon Ramsden who is suffering from a hamstring injury, but Stevie Hammell will be available after his domestic suspension.
The Fir Parkers grabbed their first win of the season at Rugby Park as two goals from Jamie Murphy saw off Kilmarnock.
This took them to third in the SPL table behind Dundee United and they could go top this weekend when they host St Mirren in a match which has been moved to Sunday due to the European game.
Hateley said: “It’s always nice to get the first win of the season under your belt. We knew how important it was going into the Kilmarnock game so fortunately we took our chances.
“St Mirren showed last year they are a good footballing side and we will have to hunt and hound them all over the pitch like we played against Kilmarnock which clearly paid dividends”.