Motherwell defender Simon Ramsden has had to be patient over the past six months – and that is the attribute he feels his team will need when they take on Stjarnan in the Europa League.
Ramsden makes his comeback on Thursday from knee surgery in January that was meant to keep him out for four weeks, only for a mistake in surgery to force another two operations and end his season.
But the 32-year-old will not make any rash bursts forward against the Icelandic side in the second qualifying round at Fir Park. Ramsden said: “It’s probably a totally different outlook in this match compared to the games we’ve played in previously where we weren’t necessarily the favourites. It’s swung round a bit where the onus is on us to go out there and get a victory to take to Iceland. But, as anyone saw in the Celtic game last night, it’s not always as straightforward as people presume.
“No doubt they will be coming to sit in and make it difficult for us to get the victory so we might have to be very patient and when we get the chance to capitalise on space we need to make the most of it and get some goals to take over there.”
Motherwell have not scored in their past seven European matches but Ramsden will not worry if a goal does not come quickly. “They have come out in the press and said that they are going to sit in, but it’s up to us to break them down,” he said. “But the game doesn’t have to be won in the first five minutes. The game is over two legs and whether it takes to halfway through the second half or even if it’s in the second leg, we just need to be focused and patient and wait for the chances to come.”
Motherwell have been caught out in their past two European adventures by counter-attacks after dominating periods of home games against Panathinaikos, Levante and Kuban Krasnodar. “That’s the difference at this level. When you do get a chance you have got to take it,” Ramsden said. “We did have some great periods against Panathinaikos when we were well on top, and then the sucker punch came and they hit us on the break.
“I don’t think you can afford to give some of these European sides too many chances because they will hurt you. We want to be positive and get a lead and take some goals into the second leg but we also have to be very wary that they don’t hit us on the counter-attack.”
Ramsden, who is likely to line up at centre-half following the departure of Shaun Hutchinson, added: “Everybody at the club can’t wait for the game. It’s been in our minds all pre-season, but this is my first competitive game for six months, so I’ve been looking forward to getting that buzz of playing competitive football again.”
Stjarnan aim to be taken seriously in their first European campaign after ditching the celebrations that made them a global hit. One compilation of Stjarnan’s inventive goal celebrations, which include a fishing routine, has attracted 3.6 million watches on YouTube.
But Stjarnan are focusing more on their football now and are unbeaten in second place in the Icelandic league after 11 games.