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MOTHERWELL starlet Steven Hetherington made his first competitive start on Sunday against St Mirren and admitted this week: “I want more of this!”
The 19-year-old came on as a second-half substitute against both Kilmarnock and St Johnstone earlier this month but gaffer Stuart McCall showed faith in the midfielder at the weekend and he played the whole 90 minutes.
Hetherington says it was a dream come true and now wants to prove his worth against La Liga cracks Levante tonight in the Europa League qualifier.
“Making your first start is what you dream about when you are playing in the streets with your mates,” the Hartlepool-born ace enthused.
“This is what you train for, this is why you put the work in.
“I played for Motherwell under-19s last season and I was given a contract in the summer. The gaffer said he was looking for me to be involved with the first-team squad as much as possible.
“It was good to finally get a start. I came on against St Johnstone and Kilmarnock and those minutes on the pitch make you hungry for more.”
He added: “Keith Lasley and Nicky Law help you along and talk you through the game. They are great players. Sometimes you would feel lost if they were not alongside you. If you do something well, they’re the first people to tell you.”
The Steelmen face an almost impossible task after suffering a 2-0 first-leg defeat against Levante at Fir Park last Thursday. No-one is giving them a hope of progressing to the Europa League group stages but Hetherington believes Motherwell are still in the tie.
He said: “The tie is not dead. It’s crucial that we score first and as early as possible. The first goal in the game is vital.
“We’re two goals down but we can match anybody. We’ve matched Celtic and Rangers in the league and I think they are better than Levante.
“I’d love to keep my place for Thursday night. I want to experience more first-team football and if the gaffer gives me the nod again, hopefully I won’t let him down.
“It would be great to play a part in a European game. It’s different to the SPL as you are up against players who are technically very good and like one-touch passing.
“Levante matched Real Madrid and Barcelona last season, two of the best teams around. They are a good side with experienced La Liga players.
“I went away to Portugal with the squad during pre-season and then the Panathinaikos games came around. You’re just left hungry for more.”
Attention will quickly shift back to the SPL after tonight's match and Motherwell will be desperate to return to winning ways following the heartbreak of conceding a late equaliser against St Mirren at Fir Park on Sunday.
Michael Higdon gave them a first-minute lead but it took until the final minute of stoppage time for young Buddie Thomas Reilly to crash home the leveller.
Former ’Well boss Terry Butcher brings his Inverness side south this weekend and Hetherington is determined to land three points against the Highlanders.
He said: “It’s vital that we win our home games in the league if we are to try to qualify for Europe again.
“I thought we were going well (against St Mirren) but the late goal was a sore one. Maybe they did deserve a draw but it felt like a defeat.
“It’s good that the game this weekend is at home so we don’t have to do any extra travelling after getting back from Spain early on Friday morning.”