MOTHERWELL'S Jonathan Page is determined to make his mark at Fir Park this season as he enters the final year of his contract.
The 22-year-old defender broke into Stuart McCall's side towards the end of last season and is looking to kick on this term in order to land a new deal with the club.
He did not have the easiest of days on Saturday afternoon as Motherwell were shocked by a decent-looking Ayr side who thumped the Champions League hopefuls 4-0.
However, Page is confident Well will come good before the new season gets underway, with him playing an important role this term.
"It's the last year of my contract so it will be a big year for me," he said. "It was only our first game but we can't use that as an excuse. It was a poor performance."
Page was picked up by the Well after being released by Portsmouth four years ago. He has waited patiently in the youth and reserve teams at Fir Park but knows that he needs to make a name for himself.
He could do that on the best stage of all this season should Motherwell be successful in landing a place in European football's elite tournament.
McCall's side will discover on Friday who awaits in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, and with the likes of Fenerbahce, Dynamo Kiev, Copenhagen and Panathinaikos among the list of names that could come out, it will be a formidable ask to get over even the first hurdle.
The first leg of the qualifier will take place on either July 31 or August 1, so addressing the problems which Saturday's game posed is critical.
And that improvement must start tomorrow night when the Steelmen travel to Kirkcaldy to face Raith Rovers.
"We are just waiting to see what happens," said Page.
"For a club like Motherwell it is exciting and we will take whoever comes.
"It is not a case that we are not excited about it, but we are trying to concentrate on getting fit and ready before we start thinking about it."
McCall was frustrated at the manner of the display from his men at Somerset Park, with a strong side made to look worryingly ordinary for long spells in the match.
However, despite seeing his men look suicidal in defence and wasteful in their attacks, he was philosophical given the fact it was their first outing of the season after their friendly with Rapid Bucharest was rained off last week.
"Losing four goals is never good but they were all stoppable from our point of view, but we could have been a few goals up inside the opening minutes," reflected McCall.
"The grass was a bit long and a bit sticky, but I don't think I've ever been involved in a game in which there were so many individual errors, be that passing, control or crossing.
"It wasn't what we were looking for. We can't be as poor again in both aspects – creating chances and also defensively.
"We have to learn from these mistakes and learn quickly."
One bonus for McCall was the re-emergence of Steven Saunders. The young defender played only once last season after suffering anAchilles injury while on international duty but is expected to play a significant role this term.