NEW Motherwell signing Steven Craig is expected to be pitched straight into the starting line-up tonight as Terry Butcher’s side aim to down Kilmarnock for the second time in the space of five days.
With James McFadden beginning a four-match suspension and Dirk Lehmann doubtful with a hamstring problem, Motherwell could be left short of firepower at Rugby Park.
But Butcher, whose side knocked Kilmarnock out of the Scottish Cup at the same venue on Saturday, is confident Craig can make an instant impact.
The 21-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements at First Division Falkirk, but following a trial spell Butcher snapped him up until the end of the season.
Butcher said: "I’ve known him since he was about 15 or 16 when he was at Raith Rovers and I was on the staff there.
"I also watched him play for Falkirk a few times and I know he is hungry and wanting to prove a few people wrong. We think he is well worth a contract until the summer."
Butcher is also hoping to sign Nottingham Forest defender Tony Vaughan on a free transfer until the end of the season as well as exploring loan options, including Manchester United’s 19-year-old Scottish midfielder John Rankin.
Motherwell will also be without Steven Hammell, who serves a one-match suspension, and striker Khaled Kemas, who has a knee problem.
Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies has also been forced to make changes because of injury and suspension.
Defender Chris Innes begins a two-match ban for offences in earlier league matches. He was sent off in Saturday’s cup game, but his suspension for that misdemeanour will not come into effect until next season’s competition.
Andy McLaren is also banned, while Jesus Sanjaun (groin) and Gary Locke (thigh) are both sidelined through injury. Sean Hessey and Peter Canero remain long-term absentees.
Striker Gary McSwegan, who was a late substitute on Saturday, faces a late fitness test on a hamstring problem.
Meanwhile, both Motherwell and Kilmarnock were yesterday told to clean up their act in the second half of the season or face further action. The SFA’s disciplinary committee sent warning letters to Fir Park and Rugby Park because of Motherwell’s record of six red and 55 yellow cards up to 31 December, while Kilmarnock had four sent off and 47 booked in the same period.
Ayr United, Stenhousemuir, Berwick Rangers, Morton and Elgin City were the other league clubs to receive warnings.