MOTHERWELL hitman Bob McHugh is hoping he can form a little-and-large strike force with Well top scorer Michael Higdon to help him earn a new deal.

The 21-year-old has emerged from the Fir Park shadows after Jamie Murphy moved to Sheffield United

He was handed his first start of the new year in Well's 3-2 home win over St Johnstone a week past on Sunday.

In that encounter the diminutive ace hooked up well with Higgy, and he believes the signs are positive that they can go on to be a perfect match.

McHugh said: "I am hoping I can gel with Higgy up top and so far, so good.

"I thought we did well against St Johnstone and in training we have begun to form a decent understanding.

"It is a bit like little and large but I am hopeful it works out.

"Michael is so good at holding the ball up and providing flicks to bring other players into the game. And of course he is also excellent at winning knock-downs in the air.

"I am pretty nippy and if I can develop a good understanding of where he is going to put the ball then that can work to our advantage.

"I hoped that when Jamie left I would get the chance to start on a regular basis and the gaffer handed me my first start in a while against St Johnstone.

"Fingers crossed I have done enough going forward to stay in.

"I am out of contract in the summer and it would be a lot easier to win a new deal if I was starting every week.

"If you are starting it means you are making a decent contribution to the team."

But McHugh admits the pressure of coming off the bench to make an impact late on was tough to handle, and he is delighted at the prospect of more meaningful game time in the months ahead.

He said: "There is a big difference between starting games on a regular basis and coming off the bench.

"As a substitute you are always trying to come on to the pace of the game, while if you come on with just 10 or 15 minutes left you are under real pressure, as a striker, to make an impact and come up with a goal.

"But when you start you have the chance to play your way into the game.

"You are starting on a level playing field with the rest of the boys. Plus if you do something wrong early doors you know that there is a good chance you will get the chance to make up for it.

"As a result you don't put so much pressure on yourself.

"The chance to start regularly is all I have wanted at Motherwell and now if that is finally coming my way then it is up to me to make the most of the opportunity."

McHugh is one of nine Steelmen who will be out of contract in the summer.

And although no talks have started yet between player and the club, the striker has no doubt about the best way to plead his case for a new deal.

He said: "If you are a striker it is all about getting goals.

"I have three so far this season and I am determined to weigh-in with as many as possible between now and the end of the season."