Motherwell super-sub Hugh McHugh eyes first-team starts

McHugh celebrates his consolation goal against St Mirren on Saturday
McHugh celebrates his consolation goal against St Mirren on Saturday

Bob McHugh admits he has experienced two years of frustration but hopes two goals in two games will help end his days as a Motherwell super-sub.

The 21-year-old striker hit the net against Hibernian and St Mirren to take his tally for the season to three.

"It's definitely frustrating," he said. "I feel I've been pushing now for the last couple of years.

"I've got a couple of goals now and will be looking to improve on that and get a few more starts."

Having come through the youth ranks at Fir Park, McHugh made his debut in 2008.

But he has found his first-team progress blocked by the likes of Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa, Jamie Murphy and Chris Humphrey.

"It's been a consistent team selection, but they've been producing the goods, they've been playing well," said McHugh.

"So it's been tough for me personally, but you just need to keep pushing and pushing and hopefully you get the break."

Motherwell manager Stuart McCall admits that McHugh is in contention for a start against Aberdeen on Boxing Day.

"He came off the bench against Aberdeen last year and got us the winner," he recalled.

"So whether he actually goes one step further and starts, I've not made my mind up yet, but he's certainly doing everything he can, looking sharp."

McCall, though, pointed out that his side's form - they sit third in the Scottish Premier League and he was happy with their performance despite that 2-1 defeat at the weekend - made it difficult for him to change his line-up.

"I spoke to Bob - he's had a little bit of a stop-start season again, which is not real fault of his own, a couple of niggling injuries," the manager explained.

"He's back really sharp now, he's looking sharp in training, I think he's scored a glut of goals in the under-20s when he's played.

"He's just unfortunate that, at the moment, Michael Higdon's there with 12 goals, Jamie Murphy's got eight and Henrik Ojamaa, although he hasn't scored that many, is creating lots of chances, playing well, Chris Humphrey's playing well.

"But Bob knows he'll get his chance and he's really close."

Meanwhile, McCall revealed that defender Steven Saunders, who had targeted a Christmas return to action, is not yet ready for the first team following the knee surgery her underwent in August.

"He hasn't had enough game time," said McCall, pointing out that the wintry conditions had not helped Saunders' progress.

"It is looking like January/February before we are looking at him in the first-team picture."