Motherwell star Liam Donnelly has warned his team-mates that they will have to bring their 'A game' to Fir Park to overcome Glentoran in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Former Dungannon Swifts ace Donnelly would have relished facing the Glens in the first qualifying round encounter, but a serious knee injury, which will keep him out of action for five months, means he will be watching from the stands.
Donnelly is well known in Northern Ireland for his record scoring exploits at under-21 level and is set to be a key player in the senior side under Ian Baraclough when he returns to action. For Motherwell he has also become a highly influential figure and was one of the prime reasons, with his exceptional performances and goals from midfield, why Stephen Robinson's side qualified for Europe by finishing third in the Scottish Premiership last season.
The 24-year-old is hugely disappointed to miss out against a team and players he knows well.
"I would have loved to have played in the game with Glentoran. We all worked so hard to qualify for the Europa League and I was really excited to play in it so to get the knee injury was a big blow," explained the classy Donnelly.
"I know we will go into the match as favourites, but we are under no illusions how hard it will be because it will be physical and Glentoran will be difficult to break down. We are going to have to bring our A game to progress.
"We fought to get into the Europa League and it was massive for us to finish in third place last season so we don't just want to make one appearance in the competition and go out. I wish I was involved, but I aim to be supporting our boys from the stand."
Donnelly added: "I watched Glentoran's win in the last round over HB Torshavn online and while the conditions were awful for both teams, it was no surprise that Robbie McDaid came up with the winner.
"He has been on flames lately. Robbie is a really good guy and last season was in brilliant form scoring a lot of important goals.
"I thought he was unlucky in his time in English football, but going to Glentoran has proved to be a great move for him and he is now back to his best.
"I know some of the other Glentoran lads as well like Luke McCullough and Jamie McDonagh, two of their new signings, and remember playing against Elliott Morris and Marcus Kane and some of the other guys when I was at Dungannon so they have plenty of good players.
"When I joined Motherwell, Gael Bigirimana (left, in his Motherwell days) was here and watching him in the last round you could see his quality. Gael hadn't played in a while before the Torshavn match so to put in a performance like that tells you about the player Glentoran have signed. There is no doubt it is a dangerous game for us but hopefully we can come out on top."