Striker headache for Motherwell with Mika Biereth and Jon Obika ruled out

By Sports Desk August 24, 2023

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell admits he faces a major challenge to alleviate the lengthy absence of strikers Mika Biereth and Jon Obika.

Kettlewell has ruled Obika out until December with a hamstring injury and on-loan Arsenal striker Biereth will likely be missing until mid-November after suffering a knee injury against St Mirren.

Kettlewell – who has not changed his opinion on the tackle that injured Biereth – is limited in what he can do in the transfer market given the club’s spending increases in previous seasons.

He said: “I have always spoken about trying to run with four strikers minimum so that is a huge blow with the news on Mika and Jon Obika, it puts us down to two senior strikers in Theo (Bair) and Conor (Wilkinson).

“Jon Obika, we are probably looking at December. It’s a difficult one but it doesn’t change the situation for me. For us to do any more business, we are in a situation where we are one in, one out.

“It’s been a real tough week and a tough week without a blank canvas just to be able to pick up the reins and go and bring players in.

“But we will continue to work away and see if we can make the situation slightly better.”

Kettlewell declared 17-year-old Mark Ferrie was now “striker number three” while wide player Joe Efford can also play up front but has only had about 15 minutes of action since returning from a long-term thigh injury.

Barry Maguire’s loan move to Kidderminster last week opened a door for a potential new arrival.

“It might help us try and get one across the line,” Kettlewell said. “But the mindset wasn’t that it was in the striker situation at the time. We had been working away on something else trying to get a balance to our squad.

“The fact that (midfielder) Harry Paton has been out and (left-back) Pape Souare is out, it’s a little bit of spinning plates to make sure we have a balance to our squad. We feel Pape will miss several games.

“When I was looking at the start of the week, we had 14 fit senior players.”

Immediately after Saturday’s Viaplay Cup defeat, Kettlewell accused Charles Dunne of making an “absolutely horrendous tackle, two-footed and straight-legged” on Biereth.

In response, the former Motherwell defender claimed he won the ball but “unfortunately slipped” and caught the Denmark Under-21 international. Dunne has contacted Biereth to apologise.

When asked if he had a different opinion on studying the footage, Kettlewell said: “My opinion hasn’t changed.

“One of the things I heard was that he won the ball. What everyone needs to understand – and I need to stress, these aren’t my rules, anyone that watched me play football will realise I picked up more red cards than anybody else and was involved in more crazy challenges than anybody else – but the rules have changed.

“I have lost count of the times I have been told by officials that it doesn’t matter if you win the ball. If you are off the ground, coming in at pace, putting an opponent at risk of injury, coming off the ground, all of those aspects, I was led to believe that was a red card.

“I hear some ridiculous arguments of ‘ah, but he took the ball’… If you have to come through the player and both your legs are wrapped around the standing leg…

“I understand that Charles Dunne has reached out and apologised for the outcome of the challenge so I tip my cap to him and say fair play in that sense. But it doesn’t change the situation that it leaves us short at the top end of the park.”

Related items

  • Southampton bring back former captain Lallana ahead of Premier League return Southampton bring back former captain Lallana ahead of Premier League return

    Southampton have re-signed their former captain Adam Lallana after the midfielder left Brighton and Hove Albion as a free agent.

    Lallana initially joined Southampton at the age of 12 and was with the club for 14 years before he left for Liverpool in a £25million deal in 2014.

    During eight years with the Saints' first team, he made 265 appearances and scored 60 goals, helping them win back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League as well as lifting the EFL Trophy at Wembley Stadium in 2010.

    He then went on to help Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool win the Premier League, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup trophies before joining Brighton in 2020.  

    He heads back to St Mary's as Russell Martin's first signing ahead of their return to the Premier League, after Southampton earned promotion by beating Leeds United 1-0 in last month's Championship play-off final.

    Speaking to Southampton's website, Lallana said: "I've been no stranger. My son's at the academy, so I'm in and around it quite a bit, but I've not been this close to being home, so it's amazing. 

    "Although it sounds like a bit of a fairytale, in my head there's still a job to do and I'm really confident I've still got a lot to give to this football club."

    Southampton will discover their Premier League fixtures for 2024-25 on Tuesday, when the schedule for the new campaign will be released. 

  • FC Dallas v St. Louis City: Luccin wants Toros to bring passion in his first game in charge FC Dallas v St. Louis City: Luccin wants Toros to bring passion in his first game in charge

    FC Dallas interim head coach Peter Luccin has urged his players to show their passion on the pitch when they welcome St. Louis City to the Toyota Stadium.

    Dallas announced they had parted company with Nico Estevez on June 9 after a run of five matches without a win left them second from bottom in the Western Conference.

    Peter Luccin was brought in as his interim replacement, with the Frenchman aiming to make a positive mark in his first game in charge.

    "I think it's very important to understand that not everything was bad in the past. I think that we build some foundation," Luccin said.

    "I can see the passion in their eyes. They see passion in my eyes, too. So, the passion for that game is a key factor, too. This is what I saw. This is what they see from me.

    “To be honest, I will say that maybe it's not the best team to start to play against in my first game, but I'm looking forward to playing against St. Louis because I know that is going to be very demanding."

    St. Louis City are just four points above Dallas in 11th after their own five-match winless run.

    Head coach Bradley Carnell admitted it was not easy to plan for this game due to the unexpectedness a new opposing manager can create.

    "It's a new manager with new tactics, so we don't know what to expect, but we've played some really good games against strong opponents and outshot those opponents," said Carnell.

    "We have a process, we have a style, but we need to match the intensity they're going to come at us with. They have something to prove, but so do we."


    FC Dallas – Liam Fraser

    After an MLS career that spanned three teams over six seasons, Fraser scored his first goal in his 77th regular-season appearance in Dallas' draw with Minnesota on Saturday.

    Only one player this season, Portland's Eric Miller (186 games), scored his first career MLS goal after more regular-season games.

    St. Louis City – Chris Durkin

    St. Louis City won possession in the attacking third five times in their draw with Portland on Saturday, with Durkin responsible for two of those, the joint-most in the team.

    St. Louis have now won possession in the attacking third 102 times this season, 11 more than any other MLS team.


    Dallas and St. Louis split the first three meetings, with each team winning once and drawing once. A total of five goals have been scored over the three games with all of them coming in the 80th minute or later.

    Dallas have lost only two of their last 19 home matches in all competitions (W8 D9) dating back to the beginning of the Leagues Cup last July. Those two losses came against Canadian sides (Montreal, Vancouver Whitecaps) as the last U.S.-based team to win in Dallas was D.C. United last July.

    St. Louis earned a league-high ninth draw of the season in a scoreless match against Portland on Saturday. They have only four defeats all season, with only seven teams losing fewer matches than City since the club joined MLS last season.


    FC Dallas – 47.6%

    Draw – 26.1%

    St. Louis City – 26.3%

  • Curtin sees opportunity as Messi, Suarez and Gazdag miss Philadelphia-Miami clash Curtin sees opportunity as Messi, Suarez and Gazdag miss Philadelphia-Miami clash

    Saturday's MLS clash between the Philadelphia Union and Inter Miami will require both teams to cope without key players, but Jim Curtin is viewing it as an opportunity.

    Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for the match, with the duo preparing to represent Argentina and Uruguay, respectively, at the Copa America.

    Philadelphia, meanwhile, will have to make do without 10-goal leading scorer Daniel Gazdag, who is part of Hungary's squad for Euro 2024.

    Asked about the difficulties of coping without Gazdag, Curtin pointed out that Miami will also need to adjust and highlighted 20-year-old midfielder Jack McGlynn as an example of a player who could stand to benefit. 

    "He's not a 10 but he has the passing range to unlock a defence," Curtin said of McGlynn. "Maybe he does it from a deeper position, but we might need him to be a little more aggressive.

    "Unfortunately, he won't be passing the ball to Daniel Gazdag so all these things weigh in, just like Jordi Alba won't be combining with Messi. 

    "Both teams aren't at full strength, so we have to make the most of what it is. I see this as an opportunity to bring out players' skills, like with Jack."

    Miami lead the way in the Eastern Conference with 35 points, 15 clear of the eighth-placed Union having played two additional matches.

    Since Messi joined the Herons last year, they have only won three of 14 matches without him, drawing five and losing six. 

    The Argentine's minutes were managed ahead of him linking up with Argentina, which coach Gerardo Martino says was necessary. 

    "With the passage of time, one sees the body does not recover in the same way," he told TyC Sports this week. 

    "He understands it, he sees that there are trips that are high-risk and long. That's why we started to agree on when it is necessary for him to stop."


    Philadelphia Union – Jack McGlynn

    McGlynn, who is expected to play a major role for the United States at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, has two goals and four assists this season.

    That first figure is a joint career best, while the latter is a new personal benchmark. The cultured left-footer could be set to play a central role at Subaru Park.

    Inter Miami – Sergio Busquets

    With Messi and Suarez absent, it could be down to Busquets to lead the way for Miami. 

    The Barcelona great trails only Riqui Puig (1,330) for successful passes in MLS this year (1,115), and four of his 17 chances created have become assists. 


    Miami have won two of their last four away games against Philadelphia (one draw, one defeat). 

    They are one of just three teams (alongside New York City and Orlando City) with multiple road wins over the Union since the start of the 2021 season.

    Philadelphia have struggled at home in general lately, going six regular-season matches without a win (two draws, four defeats) at Subaru Park. 

    Since last September, they have only won two of their 13 league games on home soil (seven draws, four defeats), with only two MLS sides collecting fewer home points than their 13 since that run began.

    However, with both teams missing key players, it is difficult to have much confidence in either. A draw could be on the cards, with Miami lacking their usual firepower. 


    Philadelphia Union – 38.4%

    Inter Miami – 35.2%

    Draw – 26.5%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.