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EXCLUSIVE: Stevie Lawless reveals John Hughes endorsement from St Johnstone double hero as Dunfermline winger opens up on Motherwell exit

Determined: Lawless
Determined: Lawless

Dunfermline new boy Stevie Lawless is adamant he can recapture the scintillating form which made him one of Scotland’s most effective wingers during the 2019/20 campaign.

Lawless, 30, has penned a contract until the end of the season after leaving Motherwell by mutual consent in October.

That miserable stint at Fir Park followed a similarly maddening six months in English football with Burton Albion.

However, Lawless is bullish regarding his own ability, insisting he remains the same player who notched 11 goals and nine assists for Livi in a single Covid curtailed season.

“That campaign at Livingston was the first time in a while that I’ve been used in my best position — and those were the numbers I got,” Lawless told Courier Sport.

Talent: Lawless

“I don’t feel like my levels have dropped since that season.

“If I get a run of games in my favoured position again — which I haven’t had at my last two clubs; that’s key — then I can replicate that.

“I want to prove that over the next few months and we’ll see where things go from there.”

A central problem

Lawless gives a disbelieving shrug as he recalls his half-season with Burton in 2020.

“I got that move because of my performances out wide for Livingston and then, out of 20 games, I played about two games on the wing! It didn’t make any sense to me.”

A return to Motherwell — the club where he enjoyed his formative years — seemed a perfect fit in January 2021.

However, it was former Fir Park gaffer Steve Robinson who put the wheels in motion for the switch and, while his successor Graham Alexander gave it the green light, Lawless never felt like his face fit.

Lawless in action for Motherwell

“I got the feeling that I wouldn’t get a chance in my natural position,” he continued. “Different managers see different things and, in the games I did play, I was playing central midfield again.

“That hampers what I can bring to the team.

“Rather than me being a bad apple — something I never want to be — I went to speak to [Motherwell chief executive] Alan Burrows, who I’ve known for a long time, and said, ‘I can’t be that person in training who brings the place down’.

“We came to an agreement that I would move on. I was quite happy and, although no-one at Motherwell would say so, they probably feel the same way. I wasn’t in the plans.

“But there’s no ill-will towards Motherwell at all. I’ve known Alan Burrows for a long time and I’ve had many years there. It’s just the way football works out sometimes.”

Total football

A stint training with former club Livingston followed, during which he netted a solo stunner in a bounce match against John Hughes’ Dunfermline.

Suffice to say, that did his chances of a Pars deal no harm.

And Lawless cannot wait to finally work with ‘Yogi’ following a swathe of ringing endorsements and an aborted bid for his services seven years ago.

“Callum Booth played under him at Livingston; Sean Welsh; Blair Spittal — so many different boys have said his training is unbelievable,” lauded Lawless.

“So, I’ve always thought it would be good to work with him. He actually tried to sign me when he was Inverness manager and I always hoped the opportunity would come again.

“It’s a different brand of football — trying to play ‘total football’, if you like — and I’ve never really had the chance to play in a team like that, apart from my first year at Partick Thistle under Jackie [McNamara].”

Derby debut

Hughes took the unusual step of confirming that he intends to start Lawless against Raith Rovers on Sunday, affording the winger a golden opportunity to make himself an immediate hero.

“It’ll have a bit of spice and nervousness — and I enjoy that,” added Lawless.

“It would be a lot more special if all the fans were allowed in and we could soak up that derby-day atmosphere. But we’re still looking forward to it and expecting an intense, competitive game.”