Hateley keen to make experience count
Tom Hateley turned 23 only this week but is feeling a growing sense of responsibility as one of the leaders of the Motherwell team.
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Hateley is in his fourth season at Fir Park and recently missed his first game since joining as a teenager.
His injury and other knocks before the international break paved the way for a new influx of young talent, with teenagers Adam Cummins, Steven Hetherington, Zaine Francis-Angol, Stuart Carswell and Fraser Kerr all featuring.
Hateley believes the likes of himself and Jamie Murphy have more onus on them after Motherwell lost captain Stephen Craigan and central midfielder Steve Jennings in the summer.
"Murph has played another season than me and I have played close to 150 games now for Motherwell," said Hateley.
Motherwell are looking to maintain top spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League when they face Dundee at Dens Park on Saturday.
"I'm just 23 and Murph is 23," Hateley said, and it's time for players like us to stand up and be counted.
"With the likes of Jenno (Jennings) going, his experience in the middle of the park was massive.
"We have got to the stage in our careers now where we can't say we are young lads and get away with the odd mistake.
"We are experienced professional footballers and hopefully we have learned enough to do that job and stand up and be counted."
Hateley feels integration off the park has been vital in the successful blooding of the young players on it.
"As a young lad when I first started playing, it's nice to just feel part of the group," the former Reading trainee said.
"I think that's a massive part of it, we have got a lot of young players and as long as you make them feel part of it and bring them into the banter, it's a massive part of developing your game and developing as a person.
"They are all great lads and involved in the banter and I think that shows in their performances, no-one has come in and shied away from getting on the ball."
Hateley had not missed a game since his debut against St Johnstone in 2009 before being forced to sit out the recent draw with St Mirren and defeat against Levante in Spain.
"I was pretty gutted about that," the right-back said. "I had played through injury before but I needed a couple of weeks to recover from it.
"It was a groin problem that I just couldn't shake off.
"The smartest decision for myself and the team was to not play. It wasn't very nice being up in the stand watching the lads.
"This is my fourth season and I had played in every game, so it wasn't much fun.
"I'll just have to get a new run going now."
Manager Stuart McCall has everyone except long-term absentee Steven Saunders available for Dens Park, with Shaun Hutchinson back after being sent off in consecutive games.
"It's good going into the game with no injury concerns," Hateley said.
"We have big Hutchy back from suspension, so hopefully if he can stay on the pitch, that will be nice."