MOTHERWELL assistant manager Kenny Black expects new signing Kallum Higginbotham to play some part against St Johnstone on Sunday, but Steven Saunders will have to wait for a return to first team action.
Higginbotham joined on loan from Championship side Huddersfield Town last week to replace Jamie Murphy following his departure to Sheffield United.
The former Falkirk striker was training with the Fir Park side prior to his loan being finalised and Black says he and manager Stuart McCall now just need to decide the best way to introduce him back into Scottish football.
Black said: “Kallum has been training with us for a couple of weeks, even before Jamie left, and over the next couple of days we’ll look and decide how we approach the St Johnstone game.
“He will definitely be part of the squad, but we have yet to decide whether he starts right away or if he might be better on the bench to start with and look to make an impact from there.”
Defender Saunders made his second outing for the under-20s against St Johnstone last night as he continues his comeback from knee surgery.
It was his first action since just before Christmas, when the under-20s last played against Dundee, but Black believes it will be a while before he returns to the first team.
He said: “He’s still getting up to speed after his injury and I think it will probably be another three or four games before we can realistically look at him returning to first team contention.”
As ’Well return after the two-week midwinter break, they sit in third place in the SPL and Black is hoping the transfer window shuts at the end of the month with no further activity.
He said: “Like a lot of Scottish clubs we are left open to teams taking our players, or at least agreeing pre-contracts with those whose deals are coming to an end.
“But hopefully we can at least get to the end of the season with the same squad. Being out of the cups we have only the league left and are determined to finish as high as we can.”
’Well’s last meeting with St Johnstone saw them run out 3-1 winners at McDiarmid Park which kickstarted their season following five games without a win.
Having narrowly lost to Celtic prior to the break, Black hopes another good result against the Perth side will kickstart 2013.
He said: “The previous win over St Johnstone came at just the right time and we have a good record against them.
“It was disappointing to lose against Celtic as other than the first 15/20 minutes we played really well and probably deserved something - they certainly knew they’d been in a game.
“If we can play like that again with the addition of home advantage, there is no reason why we can’t get a result.
“The fixtures are a little stop-start at the moment and it will be another 10 days before our next game against Dundee United, but it is up to us to maintain our level of form through it.
“Our next two games are against teams who will no doubt be a little distracted due to talk about the future of their managers, but we can only concentrate on ourselves.”
Motherwell were due to play away at Hearts on Saturday, January 26, but with the Tynecastle side in the semi-finals of the League Cup that weekend and both sides out of the Scottish Cup the fixture has been switched to Saturday, March 2.