Donnelly thriving in reinvented role as Motherwell’s winning run continues

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LIAM DONNELLY is as surprised as anyone to find himself going through something of a Gerd Muller phase.

Before this season’s Betfred Cup, the Motherwell man had four goals to his name. He’s managed to double that career tally in his last three games.

The Northern Irishman started off as a centre-half and while he has been pushed forward into midfield, his job is to break up attacks, not score peaches into the top corner from outside the box, which he did against Annan on Saturday in the last minute to add to his first-half finish that any striker would be proud of.

Injury meant he never really got going last season; however, the 23-year-old is making up for it so far and he’s rather enjoying this unexpected but welcome run of goalscoring form.

Although Donnelly did admit: “I don’t know what’s happened. I’ve never had a goalscoring run like this, never. There’s a first for everything.

“The most I’d scored before this was three in a season, I’ve topped that in three games. I’ve changed position and I’ve a bit more freedom to get forward. They’ve been encouraging me to shoot more, especially with the conditions the way they were on Saturday.

“I’ve a decent shot on me when I get in those positions but I never really had the opportunity before.

“Confidence plays a part. It’s a nice boost. It’s not my game and it wasn’t really supposed to be my game when I moved into midfield. But everybody likes to score and keep them coming. I’m not going to set a target but it’ll be nice to get a few more.”

Donnelly is playing in midfield these days and it seems to suit him. Motherwell didn’t face any great teams in their group but to get 13 goals, concede none and find a new midfielder is not a bad start for the Stephen Robinson’s side.

Donnelly said: “I played a couple of times there for Northern Ireland under-21s last season. Last season here wasn’t great in terms of injuries then when I was fit the lads were doing well.

“The manager maybe saw I’d qualities to play in there but also with a couple of players in that position, we tried it in the last game of last season to see how it went. I scored in that game as well. It’s going to take a bit of time to adjust – I need a good run at it to get used to it week in, week out.”

Motherwell look in decent nick, which is saying something for a team with 12, count them, new signings. One of them, Liam Polworth, got a goal – as did young James Scott.

Could Stephen Robinson’s side be a surprise package? With Kilmarnock all over the place, Hearts struggling and St Johnstone toiling, after four wins out of four with some good football played, this is a side which ought to be nowhere close to relegation and with hopes of a top six finish.

Donnelly added: “We’ve got the quality and as long as we keep these performances going into the start of the season, who knows what can happen?”

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