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Feb 1 2005

Terry: Edinburgh venue has fired up my boys even more Motherwell v Hearts

By Colin Duncan

TERRY BUTCHER reckons the injustice of playing tonight's CIS Cup semi-final in Edinburgh will help fire Motherwell to victory.

The Fir Park boss believes Hearts have been given an unfair advantage after being handed the match on their own doorstep.

Butcher felt the game should have taken place at Hampden - the venue for the second semi-final between Rangers and Dundee United tomorrow night.

However, the Motherwell manager is planning to use the situation to motivate his team when they turn out at Easter Road this evening.

Butcher said: 'If the tie was at Hampden I'd have expected a lot more of our supporters to be at the game.

'But Easter Road on a Tuesday night is a very difficult place to go to first and foremost so I can sense a disappointment about the match being there.

'The players are disappointed the semi-final is not at Hampden but it's an incentive to get to the final.

'I can sense the players are upbeat in training. They are really up for it, which is great,there is a lift in tempo. Mind you if there wasn't I'd be very disappointed.

'I think the fact we're playing Hearts in Edinburgh will fire the boys up quite considerably.'

Butcher took his team to the last four of the Scottish Cup two years ago, losing an epic 4-3 encounter with Rangers. And while the current Motherwell team head into tonight's contest on a wretched run, losing five of their last six matches, Butcher is confident of going one better against Hearts.

He said: 'Sometimes going into cup matches it is about confidence and we're going in on the back of another wretched run, five defeats out of six.

'It's not the ideal preparation but the old cliche about cup football is right as form doesn't matter, it's about winning on the day.

'It doesn't matter how you win it's about getting through.

'It's a great opportunity for both clubs to get to a final and both clubs could certainly do with the revenue.

'But, even if we win and get to the Final our main target is cementing our place in the top six, that's our ultimate aim.'

In terms of trophies won and finals contested Phil O'Donnell is, by far, Motherwell's most experienced campaigner.

The 32-year-old has played in six semi-finals, his last appearance ending in defeat when Sheffield Wednesday lost 4-2 to Blackburn three years ago. However, O'Donnell has happier memories of this competition. His last major match north of the border came in 1997 when he helped Celtic beat Dunfermline to book a final place against Dundee United.

The midfielder missed Celtic's 3-0 win over United through injury and while he hasn't kicked a ball since the middle of December, he is hopeful of getting the nod to face Hearts.

He said: 'I'm available for selection so I have to wait and see if the manager thinks I'm fit enough.

'It would have been ideal for the game against Hibs to have gone ahead at the weekend as it would have given me a game under our belt.

'I don't feel an extra responsibility although having been there before I know what it's about and I know the feeling of losing and winning a semi-final.

'I think I've played in two losing ones and four winning ones. My last one in Scotland came against Dunfermline and we went on to win the League Cup.'

A Scottish Cup winner with Motherwell in 1991, O'Donnell accepts a place in the League Cup Final is long overdue.

He said: 'It's a massive incentive to get to Hampden. That's what we are striving for and we know it will be hard playing Hearts in Edinburgh.

'But these opportunities don't come along too often for clubs like Motherwell and we have to make the most of them.

'We are not in semis and finals as regular as the Old Firm so it would be quite an achievement to make it to Hampden.

'It would be great to give the town an opportunity to come out and support us.'

Meanwhile, O'Donnell's nephew, David Clarkson, is hoping tonight's clash will provide him with the opportunity to atone for his miss against Rangers at Hampden.

Clarkson, who was only 17 at the time, passed upa great opportunity to put Motherwell 3-1 ahead when he was through on Stefan Klos.

He said: 'I had a great chance but unfortunately it went wide. That's football and sometimes things don't run for you.

'It was great to get there although to have gone a step further would have been better.

'I was only 17 when we played Rangers.The majority of our squad are still youngsters so it would be a great achievement for us to reach a final.'

Taken from the Daily Record

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