Stephen O’Donnell hails boss Stuart Kettlewell as a ‘revelation’ at Motherwell

Stephen O’Donnell is enjoying life under Stuart Kettlewell (Jeff Holmes/PA)
Stephen O’Donnell is enjoying life under Stuart Kettlewell (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Motherwell wing-back Stephen O’Donnell feels trust and clarity has been a major part of their success under Stuart Kettlewell.

O’Donnell is enjoying a new lease of life under Kettlewell having regained his place in the team towards the end of last season.

The Scotland international, capped 26 times by his country, went from being club captain under Graham Alexander to being ostracised by the same manager.

The signing of Paul McGinn and then emergence of Max Johnston ensured his spell on the sidelines continued beyond Alexander’s exit two games into last season, although he did make 28 appearances, 15 of them from the start.

But he has been ever-present this season and the team have only lost to St Mirren so far.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to face Rangers at Ibrox, the 31-year-old said: “It was nice to be involved straight away for pre-season. I came back fit, I know it’s a big season for myself, it’s been a difficult couple of seasons.

“I am delighted to be back in. The manager has shown a trust in players, if they do well for him, they will stay in. I must take from that that he is happy with how I’m doing.

“Collectively we are very organised and if you mix that with the quality we have got in the forward areas, you see some lovely combinations and we just look to continue that.

“It was disappointing at the weekend (against St Mirren), but I thought we showed some really good stuff. Frustrating that didn’t lead to a win.”

O’Donnell last played for Scotland in March 2022, but was soon banished from the first-team reckoning by Alexander, although the manager was the one who would soon be leaving.

“It’s just tough not playing,” he said. “Every player in the world has gone through spells of not playing and I went through it there, and at an age I was hoping I would be playing every week.

“Obviously your performances need to merit that but that’s what you are hoping for and it was frustrating, difficult, but that’s nothing new in football.

“I am thankful at the moment I am at the other side but that can change quickly, we have a lot of wing-backs this season. The important thing is trying to play and working hard.

“I am looking forward to the rest of the season with Motherwell and with the manager, he has been a revelation for me.”

Motherwell have not lost an away game in the league in seven months under Kettlewell.

“It’s simple, he gives us a job and trusts us to do a job, and fortunately in the games we have had we have delivered it,” O’Donnell said.

“Paul McGinn came out last week due to suspension, he has arguably been our best player since he signed for the club. Shane Blaney came in and it was pretty much seamless.

“That shows the togetherness, the organisation and clarity everyone has within the club. I think if you ask all of the boys, if they came in they would know exactly what’s expected of them.”

Motherwell could have a stronger squad for the Ibrox clash.

Kettlewell said: “We are hoping to have Conor Wilkinson and Pape Souare training and that might give us an option or two for our squad, but we will have to see over the next couple of days.”