STEPHEN Robinson has challenged Motherwell’s strikers to prove to him they are capable of filling the void left by Louis Moult before he strengthens his squad during the January transfer window.

Moult, who has scored 50 goals in 98 appearances for the Fir Park club in the last two and half seasons, is set to join English Championship outfit Preston North End for a fee in the region of £500,000 on January 1.

Robinson revealed he is involved in talks with four signing targets and is hopeful the success which Moult, as well as Ben Heneghan and Marvin Johnson, have enjoyed at Motherwell will help him convince them to join.

But the Northern Irishman has told Ryan Bowman, Alex Fisher, Craig Tanner and Deimantas Ptravicius they have an opportunity to stake a claim for a regular first team start in the remaining weeks of 2017.

“We knew this was coming,” he said. “It is not a great surprise to us. It is very good business for the football club. We have scoured the market. Our market is limited. We are probably on a level with the Conference and League Two in England in terms of the wages we can offer.

“But we have got targets. We are speaking to three or four players at the moment. Whether we can get them over the line financially remains to be seen.

“The players have got five games now before I make final decisions on who I bring in. We definitely need one striker. Do we need two? That depends on what they do in the next four weeks.

“Craig Tanner and Ryan Bowman both scored on Wednesday night (in the 3-2 defeat to Partick Thistle at Firhill). They have stepped up to the plate for one game. They need to continue to keep doing that.

“Louis has set a very high standard here. His are big shoes to fill. But the boys who are here, Alex Fisher, Ryan Bowman, Craig Tanner and Demi (Deimantas Ptravicius), will get the first opportunity to do that. They have got four or five games to do that. Let’s see how they go. We have got targets, it will depend on how many we need to bring in.”

Robinson added: “The strikers have been in Louis’s shadow. He has dominated, he has been the main man. It is now up to other people to step up to the plate. They did that on Wednesday night. We got punished for three individual errors. They had three shots on goal as a result of individual errors and they scored all three. But our forward play and our threats on goal were very good.

“We probably missed Peter Hartley and Trevor Carson more than Louis. They have to step up to the plate on a regular basis in the next four or five games. I will definitely bring one striker in. Whether it is more than that remains to be seen.”

Moult is not the first Motherwell player to move down south for a substantial transfer fee in recent seasons – Marvin Johnson joined League One club Oxford United for £650,000 last year while Ben Heneghan was transferred to Championship club Sheffield United for £400,000 this summer.

Robinson is hopeful that ambitious young footballers will see Fir Park as the perfect place to further their careers and that will help him to land new players next month.

“Some players are delusional with their wage demands and what they want,” he said. “Some don’t actually want to come and play football. They are quite happy to sit on benches and earn a lot of money. But that is why we try and attract the right players which we have done with those three (Johnson, Heneghan and Moult).

“But if you are an agent or a young footballer you will look at Motherwell and you will look at the Scottish Premiership and say ‘this is a place to develop’. Louis, Marvin and Ben are examples of that. They have come, done brilliantly for the football club and they have done their just rewards. That is a very big selling point for us when we try to attract players.”

Robinson continued: “We haven’t paid a transfer fee for anybody in our whole squad bar Trevor Carson who cost £10,000,” he said. “We certainly won’t be paying big money for players. If players come in it will be for a minimal amount of money or a free transfer. But we are well aware of that.

“I didn’t take the job expecting to get £500,000. We will get some money. The board will back me fully in terms of who I want to bring in.”

“I’m delighted for him. He thoroughly deserves it. He has got a life-changing opportunity for him and his family. There comes a stage where you can’t stand in the boy’s way. We couldn’t turn down an offer of that size. It was almost impossible to turn down £500,000 for a player who has only got two months left on his contract.

“Where would Louis’s head be mentally if we had done that? We had to be fair to everybody. The club benefit from it financially and Louis gets the rewards that his performances have deserved.

“I am probably the only person who doesn’t benefit as I have to go and find a replacement. But that is wat we are - a club that sells footballers. We put them on a platform and they benefit. Marvin Johnson, Ben Heneghan and Louis have all done so. I am sure there will be more coming through.”