MOTHERWELL'S Shaun Hutchinson is confident the Fir Park side's rookie rearguard can rise to the challenge on Champions League duty next week.
The defender made a timely return to action on Tuesday as the Steelmen beat Hamilton 3-0, handing boss Stuart McCall a major Euro boost ahead of their glamour clash with Panathinaikos at Fir Park.
With Steven Saunders and Jonathan Page both sidelined, Hutchinson looks set to partner new Well star Simon Ramsden after he signed a one-year deal following a trial with the club.
The pair haven't even spent time together on the training field as yet, but the 21-year-old insists the untested partnership will have no fear against the Greek giants.
Hutchinson said: "I have not had a chance to train with him yet. I have had a chat with him, he seems like a good lad and we get on well. Depending on who you play with, you just have to make it work and that is the way it is going to be
"I have learned a lot from the players I have played with. Simon is an experienced player as well. I am looking forward to playing with him. From what I have seen of him, he will be a very good addition to the squad."
While McCall and his players have been looking forward to their European date with destiny for several weeks – with the Well beating Partick Thistle 4-1 yesterday in a bounce game – Hutchinson has been left sweating over his fitness ahead of the biggest match of his career due to a groin injury.
Having Hutchinson available would be a big boost for McCall and the Geordie defender will do everything he can to ensure he is fighting fit.
He said: "As much as people hate pre-season, it is quite hard watching them get their fitness up while I am losing mine.
"I have worked really hard with the physio in the last week trying to catch up. He has been brilliant with me. Hopefully I can get some game time in a bounce match and that will put me in good stead for the Champions League.
"I am going to be a bit off it because I have missed so much – I have only been doing running for a week, but I have worked really hard and I am doing as much as I can to catch up. Playing 45 minutes on Tuesday was great for me.
"When I was in Port-ugal I was getting quite down because I didn't know what position I was going to be in, but I have come in and got myself fit at the last moment.
"I didn't know where I stood. To miss out through injury would have been gutting. I am just trying to get my fitness up and looking forward to Tuesday."