JAMIE Murphy is almost certain to make his final appearance for Motherwell at Celtic Park today (Wednesday), but Bob McHugh insists he is the man to fill his boots.
Murphy scored for ’Well against Kilmarnock on Saturday and then gave an emotional goodbye to the Fir Park faithful with a £200,000 switch to Sheffield United his most likely move.
McHugh said: “If he goes it will be sad to see him leave. I have learned from him even though he is only a few years older than me. He’s been one of our better players for a couple of years now so deserves his move.
“I’ve been pushing now for the last couple of years. The strikers have been performing so maybe this could be my break and allow me a run of games.
“I feel I’ve improved. I’m working hard every day, coming on and scoring goals. I feel confident every time I take to the pitch.
“It’s been frustrating as that’s been more than two years I’ve been consistently on the bench with the odd start. I’ve been at the club since I was 11 or 12 and I feel as if I could play at this level.”
McHugh was back on the bench for Saturday’s visit of Kilmarnock, but not for the first time this season made an impact when he came on.
The fifth anniversary of Phil O’Donnell’s death saw the entire crowd pay tribute to the former number 10 with a minute’s applause in the 10th minute.
The clapping had barely stopped when Killie took the lead in the 13th minute as Paul Heffernan squared the ball across the edge of the box and BORJA PEREZ fired past Darren Randolph.
Shaun Hutchinson cleared off the line to deny Heffernan while Perez did likewise at the other end to deny Murphy an equaliser.
On 63 minutes Kilmarnock increased their lead as Randolph saved a Michael Nelson header, but HEFFERNAN was on hand to knock in the rebound.
Just as he had done at 2-0 down at Easter Road, ’Well boss Stuart McCall sent on McHugh in place of Adam Cummins and once again the move paid dividends.
On 70 minutes McHugh’s shot from Chris Humphrey’s cutback looked to be going in, but MURPHY made sure from about a yard out.
Four minutes later HENRIK OJAMAA beat three men and curled a fine equaliser past Cammy Bell.
McHugh was delighted that he was once again able to spark a revival for his team.
He said: “We seem to be giving away goals and giving ourselves a mountain to climb, but in the last few games the boys have finished strongly and did well to get back and win a point.
“When you come on you are always looking to make an impact and while it seems Murphy stole my goal the main thing is it goes in. He did the right thing.”
Motherwell haven’t won at Celtic Park since Mark McGhee was in charge and McHugh believes it is about time they did again. He said: “I grew up a Celtic fan and was even a season ticket holder, although I don’t follow them so much now, and I’d love to go back there and get a victory.
“We’ve not had a win there since I’ve been involved so it’s been a long time and even a point would be a great result. Hibs beat them on Saturday, but I don’t think you can read anything into it and I expect them to come back strong.”