Ross Tierney is relishing the challenge of proving he can handle the physical nature of the Scottish Premiership after battling against bigger players all of his life.
The 5ft 7in attacking midfielder made his Motherwell debut against Morton on Saturday after joining from Bohemians.
The 20-year-old made 67 appearances for the Dublin side over three seasons and is a Republic of Ireland Under-21 international. But he feels his size had put off some other suitors before Motherwell succeeded with a bid.
“People were looking but I was always looked at as a small player,” he said. “I had a couple of injuries and then I had a bad year off the pitch and on the field in 2020, probably like we all did. Thankfully I broke into the team and I did well and here I am now.
“I had three years playing senior football so coming here wouldn’t be too much of a big step-up in terms of physicality.
“I am obviously small in stature but I am well able to hold big boys off because I have been playing with older lads my whole life, running about with my big brothers and then playing three years senior level with Bohs has helped, but there is obviously a long way to go physically.
“It’s been challenging because I am a smaller lad than everyone else. I was always the smallest person in the team, but I enjoyed the challenge and it probably made me stand out a little bit more.”
Tierney had to deal with massive challenges off the pitch in 2020 following the death of his brother and health problems for his first child.
With his partner and their two children now over in Scotland with him, Tierney is looking to settle in on and off the pitch in Lanarkshire.
“I have had a plan set out that this half season is more about teething for me and settling in and if I get a few minutes here and there I will be happy,” he said.
“But it’s more just to get to know the lads and get used to the full-time environment and hopefully next season, you will start seeing a lot more of me.”
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander will not set any limits on Tierney’s initial impact though.
“He has been playing football regularly for the last two years and he’s a fit lad,” said Alexander ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Hibernian.
“I spoke to him a lot about how we play and how we see him fitting in and he has seen that in training and I thought he got it straight away in the position he played on Saturday.
“We always understand young players are going to go through peaks and troughs and we have to get them through that but I feel he is ready to go. The opportunity is there for him to be up and running straight away but he has very good players to compete with.
“I thought he had a great impact on the game on Saturday, as did the other subs. I feel he is something different from the rest of the players and we want to have alternatives to win different games.
“There is still a lot of progress Ross has to make to become the finished article but certainly the raw talent is there and the drive.
“He is very mature for 20 years old. He knows where he is and he knows what he has to do to succeed and he is willing to go for it.
“It was great to see him in a Motherwell shirt finally and hopefully we will get one that fits him next time.”
Alexander is still looking to do more transfer business with central defence a priority amid the ongoing absence of Ricki Lamie.
“Defensively we need to have a look at our pool of players and see if we can add to that because I still feel there are things we need to iron out and get better at,” he said.
“We’ve got options but there’s a few injuries in there and we are looking long term as well – for next season and beyond.”
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