Motherwell plan Champions League upset
Club captain Keith Lasley is determined to prove Stuart McCall's Motherwell merit a place in Europe's elite competition as he leads the Lanarkshire side into their Champions League debut against Panathinaikos.
Motherwell host the Greek giants, European Cup runners-up in 1971, in the first leg of the third qualifying round after finishing third in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League before the collapse of Rangers. Stuart McCall's side were in the top three for the vast majority of last season despite having one of the smallest squads in the SPL and Lasley has his sights on upsetting the odds again.
"We never got to this stage just to make up the numbers," midfielder Lasley said. "We put in a lot of hard work to get into this position and we don't want to throw it away."
He added: "We want to do ourselves justice and hopefully if we do that we can give ourselves a chance. It's a big name in European football and you might get caught in the headlights if you think too much about that. We will be going in with a mindset that we can get a positive result."
Despite being Champions League newcomers, Motherwell are embarking on their fourth European campaign in five years and Lasley feels that experience will be vital.
"The last few years we have consistently been in Europe," the 32-year-old said. "We have kind of got used to it, which is strange for a club of our size. It definitely helps. It's a different brand of football, there's no doubt about that. It can be a different tempo - the games can be played pretty slow at times.
"The Champions League is certainly new for us. We have got to make sure we grasp the moment and enjoy it."
Lasley will make his 299th appearance for Motherwell on Tuesday night, according to the club website records, and his first as club captain following the retirement of Stephen Craigan.
"It was special to be asked," he said. "I really enjoyed stepping in for Crags last year. To be asked to take over the role full-time is great.
"With our first competitive game being the Champions League it makes it all the more special. "It's something I'm going to relish on a personal level. But my main focus is to play my part in a real team performance."