St Mirren defender Declan Gallagher believes Motherwell will be up and running for the cinch Premiership opener on Sunday.
The Well players are smarting from their embarrassing Europa Conference League second-qualifying round exit at the hands of Sligo Rovers on a 3-0 aggregate on Thursday night.
Boss Graham Alexander departed the Lanarkshire club on Friday afternoon and academy director Steven Hammell will take interim charge for the trip to Paisley, assisted by former Motherwell team-mate Brian Kerr, who is the club’s under-18s coach.
Ex-Well defender Gallagher, however, speaking before Alexander left, noted that the European ties were the first two competitive games of the season for the Steelmen and expects them to be in better shape on Sunday.
The 31-year-old said: “Obviously it wasn’t a good result for them. They are probably lacking a wee bit of match sharpness.
“I heard that they only had two pre-season games and some players had not even played 90 minutes so I don’t think it is anything to do with them being a bad team or anything like that, it was down to match sharpness.
“Obviously they have played four or five games now so come the weekend they will be a different animal so it will be a hard game.
“Match sharpness and fitness are two completely different things. It is OK coming in the training ground and running round pitches and doing your runs.
“Match sharpness is short, sharp, having to press people, having to run in behind, it is completely different.
“Until you actually play those first 90 minutes and keep playing them, it is hard.
“As I said, I don’t think Motherwell were completely match sharp so it will be a completely different game this weekend.”
St Mirren failed to come through their Premier Sports Cup group but Gallagher believes they can take some encouragement from their 3-1 win over Edinburgh City in their final fixture last Saturday.
The Scotland defender said: “It wasn’t the start that we wanted, we wanted to progress, but that didn’t happen so we need to put that behind us and look forward to the season coming.
“The games came early and we had a lot of new signings in, I think it is six or seven so the boys had to understand what the gaffer wants.
“There was some clicking together in the last game against Edinburgh so we hope to take that into this game.”