Tom Hateley urges Motherwell to retain squad

Tom Hateley fends off a challenge by Celtic's Charlie Mulgrew
Hateley wants 'Well to improve on their sixth-place league finish next season

Motherwell defender Tom Hateley has urged the Lanarkshire club to do all it can to retain the squad that helped it reach the Scottish Cup final.

The Steelmen lost 3-0 to Celtic at Hampden and manager Stuart McCall faces a challenge to keep the team intact.

Hateley said: "If we can keep hold of our players then hopefully next season we can have a good Cup run and finish higher up the league.

"Hopefully anyone who is looking to get our players doesn't get them."

The versatile 21-year-old, who played at right-back in the Cup final, added: "Being here shows what we can do. We want to get to semi-finals and finals every year. Hopefully, if the squad stays together, we can get back here next season.

"I'm still a young footballer learning the game and building myself as a player and a person.

"You have to learn from this experience and take it on the chin. You want to be playing in massive games, in front of massive crowds.

"It was magnificent coming out and seeing a sea of claret and amber. It made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck."

McCall now has to build for his first full season in charge with the retention of striker John Sutton and Steve Jennings the priority.

Jennings revealed after the game he was eager to sign a new contract but Sutton is said to be attracting interest from Celtic and Hearts.

Another player McCall will hope is at Fir Park next season is Jamie Murphy, who operated on the left of Motherwell's five-man midfield against Celtic.

The 21-year-old scored goals against Dundee, Dundee United and St Johnstone on the way to the final but could not make a major impact in a match Celtic wrapped up in the final 15 minutes.

He said: "Congratulations to Celtic, they won the Cup but it's not something you want to do - stand there watching someone else lifting the trophy.

"But it does give you determination to get back here and be the ones lifting the trophy."

Murphy was restored to the team after being rested for the final two games of the league season as McCall rotated his squad.

But he dismissed suggestions the tactic backfired by failing to ensure Motherwell were sharp enough.

"It was the manager's choice to rest players and I think it was the right one. It's just that on the day Celtic were the better team," the former Scotland Under-21 international said.