McCall did not name those who have told them of their intention to leave – in case they have a change of heart – but he is hopeful they will spring some surprises in persuading some to stay. Most of the experienced Motherwell players – Darren Randolph, Tom Hateley, Simon Ramsden, Nicky Law, Chris Humphrey, Michael Higdon, James McFadden, Steven Saunders and Omar Daley – are coming to the end of their contracts.
McCall has a “rough idea” who will stay and the completion of his own two-year deal and their secured top-six place in the SPL will prompt more negotiations after young players such as Stuart Carswell and Bob McHugh signed up in recent weeks. McCall, whose side face Dundee at Dens Park today, said: “I’ll be confident that we’ll keep a few but likewise I know that we’ll lose a couple. That can go for every club in the SPL and I’m sure it will. We’ll try to make inroads in the next few weeks on the ones we think we can offer terms to.
“Maybe some players will wait and see but we will put a time limit on it. We need to know where we are going. We will be at least able to offer contracts in the next few weeks. We managed to keep Jenno [Steve Jennings] a year longer than many would have thought and hopefully we will keep one or two longer than people think.
“We will lose a couple of players who have given the club great service and we will wish them well, but we have to focus on the here and now. We have had a meeting with the players today not to rest on our laurels. A lot of people think we are looking good for a European spot but we have to continue doing what we have been doing of late.”
McCall comes face to face across the Dens Park dugouts with former Rangers team-mate John Brown, some of whose team were accused of “taking bodies for fun” by Dundee United midfielder Michael Gardyne following the recent derby draw. But McCall has no concerns at all about the tactics of Brown, who has earmarked McFadden as the key player his side will need to close down.
McCall said: “If we were playing against James McFadden, I certainly wouldn’t be saying ‘give him time and space’. I’m sure they will be getting about him and trying to close his space. I watched the derby game against Dundee United and it was a typically gutsy performance. No worries about that, they will be committed and they have got to be committed. They have good footballers in their team.”
Brown is refusing to give up hope of avoiding relegation as he called for continued resistance. He said: “We can take a lot of hope and encouragement from the derby game. I was really pleased with the way we played for 70 minutes with just ten men and didn’t cave in.
“That spoke volumes for their character and we’ll have to be like that again for the Motherwell match. They have lots of talented players but it’s our job not to let them play to their best.”