McCALL KEEN TO KEEP SQUAD TOGETHER

Stuart McCall is bidding to keep his squad intact for Champions League football next season.

Last Updated: 03/05/12 at 19:13 Post Comment

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Stuart McCall: There's some wheeling

Stuart McCall: There's some wheeling

Manager Stuart McCall is set for talks with the Motherwell hierarchy and his out of contract players in a bid to keep his squad intact for Champions League football next season.

Rangers' 5-0 defeat of Dundee United ensured Motherwell cannot be caught in third place and will enter the third qualifying round of Europe's elite competition next term.

McCall hopes to retain the players that have taken the Steelmen into the Champions League - with second-placed Rangers ineligible due to their financial predicament - but the rewards for McCall's men are not yet so great that he can make head-turning contract offers.

"There's a little bit of wheeling and dealing to be done," said McCall, who plans talks with vice-chairman Derek Weir and chief executive Leeann Dempster before meeting his players.

"I hope from my point of view we can keep the majority of the squad that have been so successful this season."

McCall was earlier this season informed his budget for next term would be reduced, making it a challenge to retain his players.

He added: "They've probably individually and collectively had the best season of their careers.

"To be asked to sign again on reduced money is a difficult one to sell. But I'm hopeful."

There will be at least two European ties next term which could enhance the budget.

Dempster has valued the prize money for the third qualifying round at more than £110,000 while the club could expect to make more from gate receipts and television money.

Victory would put them into the play-offs for the group stages and defeat would send them into the Europa League play-offs.

As for the prospect of Champions League football, McCall, whose side play Rangers on Saturday, said: "When the draw's made and we're actually in it, I'll believe it.

"The major success has been to finish third. I think it's been an outstanding achievement by our players."

Forward Jamie Murphy is one of the players who could depart.

The 22-year-old in January rejected a move to Blackpool in preference of staying at Fir Park but could leave this summer, with his contract due to expire at the end of next season.

Murphy said: "It still hasn't sunk in yet that we could play in the Champions League next year.

"I always felt confident that it was the right decision (to stay) and getting third place here was what we wanted to do.

"I'm enjoying it here at the moment and we're all playing good football."

Murphy would not be drawn on his future, adding: "I've not heard anything else. It's something I don't really think about."

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