Caretaker Gordon Young sure Motherwell will bounce back for Hearts visit

Motherwell caretaker manager Gordon Young has assured supporters the club is well-placed to cope with the departure of its management team.

Young will take charge of the team for tonight's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash against in-form Hearts at Fir Park after Craig Brown and Archie Knox were prised away by Aberdeen late last week. Skipper Stephen Craigan admitted some players felt "numb" as they went into training on Friday after the popular management team's shock departure. But Young feels they have recovered well and are ready to face Hearts.

The youth development head will take charge of his second Motherwell game - the last ended in a 1-0 defeat at Hearts almost a year ago. But he feels the players and himself are in a more positive position than they were last December when Jim Gannon departed.

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"I think it's slightly different from last year," Young said. "I've worked very closely with the most recent management team.

"While I'm disappointed they have left for pastures new, the players are a more tight-knit bunch and a more confident group. They are far better prepared to cope with the situation, as well as myself personally.

"Nothing we will do and have done over the last couple of days will change, we will replicate what we normally do and hopefully we get the success that we did with that formula."

Young added: "I don't see any reason why Motherwell can't finish third or fourth."

Young insisted he had not had to lift the players following the disappointment of the veteran coaches' exit. "It's all credit to the players for being such a professional group that they have done that themselves," he said.

"I've just organised training and tried to replicate a successful formula. The players, after the initial news, got it out their system through training and have kicked on since then."

While Young and the players have been working hard to make sure there is no immediate backlash against a Hearts team on the back of five consecutive clean-sheet wins, work is also ongoing off the park to keep the club on a steady footing. The uncertainty will not help the club plan for January, when strikers Alan Gow and Nick Blackman are out of contract along with midfielder Marc Fitzpatrick. When asked about the fears over the departure of the strikeforce, Young said: "I think the club is already addressing that situation. They looked at people who were running out of contract and I know they have engaged in talks as fresh as Friday, so hopefully that's something that can appease the fans. Anything I can do to encourage them to stay, I will certainly do that."

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies, meanwhile, believes his approach is vindicating the adage that attack is the best form of defence. Hearts took their goals tally in the SPL to 27 as they consolidated third place in the table with a 5-0 victory over Aberdeen on Saturday.The total is seven more than Hearts had managed by 29 January last year, when Jefferies returned to Tynecastle to replace Csaba Laszlo.

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Laszlo preferred a more cautious approach, although his hands were tied to a large extent by the club's failure to land his striking targets. Jefferies had no such problems, signing Stephen Elliott and Kevin Kyle in the summer to give Hearts a new threat up front and the return of Rudi Skacel in September has yielded seven goals. With David Templeton emerging as an exciting first-team player on the flanks, Jefferies has a range of attacking options which will be further boosted when Andrew Driver returns from injury in the coming weeks.

And the more attacking approach of Jefferies has not left them exposed at the back - they have conceded less goals than at the same stage last season. Jefferies said: "Hearts had been struggling for a couple of years to get goals but they are back looking like we have a bit of a cutting edge. We have some good flair players who are getting in to create chances and win games. They say attack is the best form of defence, well we're proving that right at the moment because we are attacking teams, scoring goals and also keeping clean sheets."

Hearts have scored 13 goals without reply in five successive victories. But Motherwell comfortably won 2-0 at Tynecastle in September and will take heart from the fact they have won four of their last five game at home to Hearts as they bid to peg back a six-point deficit following three postponed matches. Jefferies added: "Things are looking good but this is a different game, this team are not as low in confidence as Aberdeen were, they have been consistent this year and are a good footballing side."