Stephen Robinson insists qualifying for Europe has allowed him to build an even BETTER squad than the one which stormed to a third place finish last season.
And at the forefront of it all will be a £3.2million ‘signing’ that cost him nothing.
David Turnbull ’s return from the injury that denied him a megabucks move to Celtic a year ago is as much a talker around Fir Park as any of the seven summer recruits.
The Scotland U21 star will be eased back in as Motherwell begin what promises to be a momentous season with a trip to Dingwall on Monday night.
And Robinson said: “David is like a new signing and it isn’t often we bring in a new £3.2million signing.
“What he has to do, and we have said this to him, it won’t just happen for him he has to work hard.
“He has to get into our team now as we had one of the best midfields in the country last season.
“If he can do that and then kick on then that’s what we want. Usually we would have had eight or nine games before the first league game but we have only had four and you are trying to get everyone minutes on the pitch.
“So it would probably have been better for David if it was a normal pre-season.
“But you can see his quality in training and when we do runs he is right up there. I don’t think it will take him to long to get back up to speed.”
Robinson guided the Steelmen to their highest league finish in six years last time out.
That Euro spot has given him a carrot to attract quality players to the club with Ricki Lamie, Jordan White and the return on loan of Jake Hastie among seven signings while Chris Long was persuaded to pen a new deal.
Now, having watched Linfield get to within a round of the Europa League group stages last season, the Northern Irishman has challenged his new-look side to prove their quality at home and abroad.
He said: “We have no divine right to be in the top six, we are a small club with a lower budget.
“But we have the players who can achieve what we want to do. I believe our squad is potentially stronger this season. It is younger and although they might be naive at times, I think we certainly have more pace in the squad.
“It will be a tough season to replicate last year but we have the players to do it.
“The budget has remained the same, if not slightly less but we have been able to recruit well.
“I think Europe was a huge thing for some of the new boys. Chris Long had a lot of options and people paying a lot more money than we were. Mark O’Hara and Nathan McGinley were the same. We persuaded them to come here and Europe played a part in that.
“In the three and a half years of me being here, the attraction of coming here has increased. Finishing third and getting European football adds to that.”
Robinson accepts this season more than any other could be the perfect time for Well to make their mark on Europe.
“I look at Linfield and they were one game off the group stages in the Europa League,” he said. “Not to be disrespectful, but if a club of that size can do it then we can do the same.
“We will have league games before Europe. Usually you start in Europe against teams who have started their season and you are rusty and don’t know your best team.
“But this year we will be up to speed and that probably gives us a small advantage over previous seasons.
“It cost Kilmarnock last season and it has happened to other teams other years. We will have no excuses.”