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7 days ago

Ramsden set for different approach

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Motherwell defender Simon Ramsden has had to be patient over the last six months - and that is the attribute he feels they will need most when they take on Stjarnan in the Europa League.

Ramsden makes his comeback on Thursday from knee surgery in January that was meant to keep him out for four weeks, only for a mistake in surgery to force another two operations and end his season.

But the 32-year-old will not make any rash bursts forward against the Icelandic side in the second qualifying round at Fir Park.

Ramsden said: "It's probably a totally different outlook this match compared to the games we've played in previously where we weren't necessarily the favourites.

"It's swung round a bit where the onus is on us to go out there and get a victory to take to Iceland.

"But, as anyone saw in the Celtic game last night, it's not always as straightforward as people presume.

"No doubt they will be coming to sit in and make it difficult for us to get the victory so we might have to be very patient and when we get the chance to capitalise on space we need to make the most of it and get some goals to take over there."

Motherwell have not scored in their last seven European matches but Ramsden will not worry if a goal does not come quickly.

"They have come out in the press and said that they are going to sit in but it's up to us to break them down," he said.

"But the game doesn't have to be won in the first five minutes. The game is over two legs and whether it takes to halfway through the second half or even if it's in the second leg, we just need to be focused and patient and wait for the chances to come."

Motherwell have been caught out in their last two European adventures by counter-attacks after dominating large periods of home games against Panathinaikos, Levante and Kuban Krasnodar.

"That's the difference at this level, when you do get a chance you have got to take it," he said. "We did have some great periods against Panathinaikos when we were well on top, and then the sucker punch came and they hit us on the break.

"I don't think you can afford to give some of these European sides too many chances because they will hurt you.

"We want to be positive and get a lead and take some goals into the second leg but we also have to be very wary that they don't hit us on the counter-attack."

Ramsden, who is likely to line up at centre-half following the departure of Shaun Hutchinson, is eager to make up for lost time after an impressive run at right-back was cut short last season.

"Everybody at the club can't wait for the game , it's been in our minds all pre-season but this is my first competitive game for six months so I've been looking forward to getting that buzz of playing competitive football again," he said.

"It was a frustrating time but a lot of footballers have been in that boat and I intend to bounce back from it."

Stjarnan aim to be taken seriously in their first European campaign after ditching the celebrations that made them a global hit.

One compilation of Stjarnan's inventive goal celebrations, which include a fishing routine, has attracted 3.6million views on YouTube.

But Stjarnan are taking themselves more seriously now and are unbeaten in second place in the Icelandic league after 11 games.

Striker Michael Praest, whose team beat Bangor 8-0 on aggregate in the first round, said: "There are no special celebrations planned. That was a couple of years (ago that) they did those celebrations. We try to put that away and focus on the football instead.

"They were very popular around Europe and they were the most famous team in Iceland because of the celebrations, but we have been going up the table in the last couple of years and people are seeing us as a contender in Iceland and focusing more on our football rather than the crazy celebrations."

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