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Stuart Kettlewell insists there is “absolutely nothing to suggest” Max Johnston will not be a Motherwell player next season.

The 19-year-old defender is out of contract in the summer and has been linked with Premier League-bound Burnley and Serie A side Bologna, among other clubs.

Johnston is considering the offer of a new deal from the cinch Premiership outfit and when asked if it is realistic to think the Scotland under-21 cap, who returned from a loan at Cove Rangers in January, would be at Fir Park next season, Well boss Kettlewell replied: “There has been absolutely nothing to suggest otherwise.

“I have a really good relationship with Max. He knows what I think of him, I think he has started every game since I came in.

“I knew he was a good player before I came in and I am seeing him flourish and improve every time he takes to the pitch, so there has been nothing to suggest otherwise.

“There has been an offer made to the player and I understand he may want to take time over that. We would love to have him at the club next season.

“But the simple message to Max was that we need him to keep performing the way he has done of late.”

Rejuvenated Well have lost  just once in seven matches since Kettlewell took over from Steven Hammell in February and with games against Dundee United at home on Saturday and Celtic away before the split, they trail sixth-place Hibernian by four points with an outside chance of a top-half finish.

Bottom side United won their first game under Jim Goodwin at the weekend when they beat Hibernian 2-1 at Tannadice but Kettlewell insists the Terrors will be no more motivated than his side.

He said: “I always make a case for what cause is greater.

“People will argue that if you are fighting for your life and are bottom of the table (it is greater), I don’t necessarily go along with that because I really want to think about keeping us on what has been a very good run.

“As I keep saying, we want to amass as many points as we can, try to entertain our fans and get another victory at home, and that cause for me can be a catalyst for us to be motivated to play in any game.

“I can sum it up, I take every game as serious as the last one and I will never change from that.

“When you start thinking that you can be a slighter version of yourself then you are going to encounter trouble.

“So it is important that you maintain standards in everything that you do, it breeds a habit of trying to win games of football.

“But if you think of anything else, that it is not as important, it breeds another habit which is normally one that we start complaining about, supporters are unhappy if you don’t get results, players are unhappy, staff are unhappy and you just never want to encourage that being a factor.”