STUART MCCALL is looking forward to meeting up once more with one of his favourite managerial colleagues when Kilmarnock visit Motherwell on Clydesdale Bank Premier League duty today.
Killie’s outspoken manager Kenny Shiels is free to return to the technical area at Fir Park following a three-game touchline ban for remarks made about referee Euan Norris following his side’s defeat to Inverness on 3 November, with another two-game ban suspended until the end of next season.
And Shiels’ feud with the footballing authorities will continue into 2013. He accused fourth official Andrew Dallas of an “outrageous fabrication” against him after an incident which saw the Northern Irishman sent to the stand in a home SPL match against St Johnstone last month.
Shiels has been asked by the Scottish Football Association’s disciplinary panel to explain those comments on 10 January.
McCall, though, admits he is a big fan of the Rugby Park boss. “Kenny is interesting, I see him at a lot of games and bounce matches,” said the Motherwell manager.
“He’s a football man, he studies and is enthusiastic about the game and I get on fine with him. We’ve never had a cross word during games and he is always in afterwards for a cup of tea.
“And I will be honest, when I’ve driven home a couple of times from games I have been watching this season I’ve actually sat in the car waiting for his interview to come on, just to listen to see what he has got to say.
“That’s a genuine interest in listening to his outlook, especially when you are going to be playing them soon.
“A couple of weeks ago after they had a great 3-3 draw up at Dundee United on a Friday night, I think the radio programme went on a bit longer just to get Kenny on.
“I sat in the car listening to what he had to say while my missus had a cup of tea waiting on me. He is always entertaining. He is a deep thinker and I think he has been good for the game.
“And I like his Kilmarnock side. I think they have a lot of good players, I could go through the whole side. They will be definitely looking to be top six with the squad they have got and they will be confident of doing that.
“We have not beaten Kilmarnock here since I’ve been in charge, they are always tight games but always good games.”
Kilmarnock striker Cillian Sheridan is looking to return to their preferred style of football against Motherwell, despite taking seven points from three Clydesdale Bank Premier League games.
Killie have beaten Aberdeen and Hearts and drawn with Hibernian in recent weeks, but Shiels has not been completely satisfied with the standard of football.
Sheridan will return to one of his former clubs when Killie travel to Fir Park – he enjoyed a loan spell at Motherwell from Celtic when Mark McGhee was in charge – and he is looking to use the occasion to revert to their passing game.
The Irishman said: “I have good memories from it and I’m looking forward to going there. I learnt a lot. It was my first loan move so it was an eye-opener to life outside Celtic. It opens your eyes to things most clubs outside Celtic had – training facilities and pitches. But the benefit of it is that you’re playing first-team football rather than friendlies or sitting on the bench. So it was a good move at the time.
“There are four players I think, Steven Hammell, Keith Lasley, Jamie Murphy and Shaun Hutchinson, who were there. It’s actually not often you see that now. Even at Celtic there are only one or two players who are still there. I think a lot of the SPL is the same.
“For the last two or three seasons they have been playing good attractive football. We try to as well. Maybe the last few games we haven’t played as much football as we would have liked.
“Hopefully we can get back to that and it should be an entertaining game.”
Shiels added: “It was a good result against Hearts but I want to get back to the way we are capable of playing. It wasn’t a vintage Kilmarnock performance so we are looking at ways in which we can improve upon that.”
Meanwhile, Shiels dismissed reports linking midfielder Liam Kelly with a potential move to Derby.
Shiels said: “The boy is happy here and we hope to keep him here. He is still under contract. I haven’t heard anything from other clubs, not a thing.”