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Jan 18, 2020 at 7.20pm UK
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Stephen Robinson: 'Motherwell are sharp and ready to go'

:Headline: Stephen Robinson: 'Motherwell are sharp and ready to go':
Motherwell stuttered on return last season.

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson feels they are better prepared for the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round this year.

Well return from their winter break at Dundee on Saturday night 12 months after getting knocked out at the same stage by then Championship side Ross County.

Robinson felt his team were rusty last year after plans for a midweek friendly fell through, while a decision to hand new signing Ross McCormack a start to get his fitness up backfired.

The Fir Park manager subsequently reshaped his team and they went on a five-match winning run but he has made attempts to ensure they hit the ground running on Tayside following their training camp in Tenerife.

"We had a game against Hibs behind closed doors on Tuesday which sharpened everybody up and I feel we are ready to go," he said.

"We made changes to what we did when we came back against Ross County. It's difficult because Championship teams continue to play games. Dundee are right up there, Ross County were right up there at the time.

"It's important we come back sharp and we have learned our lesson. We did have a game in Tenerife last year but I felt we probably needed another one.

"We had introduced new players as well so I think it's a wee bit different. We have only introduced one new player.

"The signs I saw on Tuesday against Hibs were excellent. Some of our football was very, very good but our energy levels were high, and that's important."

The new player is former Kilmarnock forward Mikael Ndjoli, who has joined on loan from Bournemouth.

"He is another young player with pace, energy and invention, and I think he fits into what we want to do," Robinson said.

"He can play anywhere across the front three. We played him left and right against Hibs and he was electric at times, really quick. He has brought a real freshness to the camp as well."

Meanwhile, Robinson dropped a heavy hint that goalkeeper Mark Gillespie would move on in the summer.

Gillespie is out of contract at the end of the season while current understudy Trevor Carson, who lost his place after suffering from deep vein thrombosis, extended his deal until 2022.

Robinson said: "Mark has been in excellent form. I pick the best team to win a football match. That is simply it, there are no favourites, I have to pick the team that I think is going to win the match and Mark is in control of the number-one jersey.

"Trevor is a top, top goalkeeper and there will be a stage in the season where I have to make sure he is ready to go for next season, because Trevor will be our number-one goalkeeper for next season, I have no doubt about that.

"I have to manage that one, manage the expectations but also be fair, if someone is playing extremely well, they don't deserve to lose their place."

When pressed on Gilllespie's contract situation, Robinson said: "Mark hasn't signed at this stage. Players have got the right to sign whenever they want so Mark has done nothing wrong.

"His form has been terrific and he has kept a top goalkeeper like Trevor out. We will play it by ear and see what happens. It's ongoing."

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