MOTHERWELL manager Stuart McCall is hopeful record-breaking striker Michael Higdon will commit himself to a new contract with the Fir Park club as they close in on European qualification for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Higdon scored twice in the 3-1 win at Dundee United last night, a result which leaves Celtic still needing one more point to clinch the SPL title. It takes Motherwell six points clear of Inverness in the race for runners-up spot and Higdon’s double set a new post-war club record for league goals in a single season, his tally of 24 beating Willie Pettigrew’s mark set 37 years ago.
Higdon is one of a number of Motherwell players who are out of contract this summer but McCall believes the big Englishman is ready to agree a new deal.
“He has certainly made all the right noises,” said McCall. “I don’t think he wants to go anywhere else and try to win another set of fans over. The more goals he scores, the harder it might be to keep him. But I certainly know he is settled in Scotland. We look after him. If he wants a day off, he can have one. It will obviously be down to finance, but whenever we have talked, he hasn’t said he is waiting for a bigger and better offer from elsewhere. The club have been speaking to his agent, so hopefully we’ll get him tied up.
“He also won the Motherwell lottery today, got £750, so everything is going for him right now! He is a terrific guy to have in the dressing room. He beats himself up when things don’t go well and there are times when he isn’t the most pleasing on the eye. But he has had an incredible season.
“It’s fantastic that he has beaten the record but he has a target in his mind of 30 goals this season. Michael will be the first to admit he’s got good service this season. He wouldn’t have got the amount of goals he has without Henrik Ojamaa around him, their partnership has been terrific.
“When Michael hasn’t played well this season, he has scored. When he hasn’t scored, he has played well. But tonight he did both. He led the line superbly and also scored two goals.
“Although we were second in the table at the split, nothing was decided in terms of Europe and we needed a really strong performance tonight. We have four more massive games and we need another couple of wins at least.”
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara was left to rue his side conceding two goals in the first eight minutes, which contributed to a defeat which leaves the Tannadice club with only the faint prospect of securing Europa League football for next season.
“It was a bad start from us again,” said McNamara. “The first one from Higdon was a great strike. But the second one from Ojamaa was disappointing, coming from a throw-in and then just running right through us.
“We battled hard after that to try to get back into it. We had a few wee chances, but their goalkeeper did well for them. I felt the next goal was crucial and it was disappointing they got it.
“The lads have shown they have the ability, but at certain times they need to work on mental toughness and responsibility in their jobs. Not just the defence, but as a team. Not switching on and losing concentration was costly for us in the Scottish Cup semi-final and it was the same tonight.”