PETER Hartley is confident Motherwell won’t be affected by Brendan Rodgers’s mind games in the build-up to the Betfred Cup final - and will play their natural game against Celtic on Sunday.

Rodgers was publicly scathing about the Fir Park club’s uncompromising style following their controversial semi-final victory over Rangers at Hampden last month.

He described the match, during which Rangers centre half Fabio Cardoso suffered a broken nose after a challenge by Motherwell striker Ryan Bowman, as “dangerous”.

The Northern Irishman claimed some of the challenges the team managed by his countryman Stephen Robinson had made had “endangered players’ lives and careers”.

And the former Swansea City and Liverpool manager also stated that referees need to be “really firm” with their “constant physical challenges”.

But Hartley believes Rodgers’s remarks were carefully calculated and possibly betrayed an underlying apprehension about how Robinson’s side approach games.

Asked if he thought the Parkhead club’s manager was possibly concerned about Motherwell’s aggressive game plan, he said: “He could be.

"I’d imagine Brendan Rodgers is very clever and meticulous with the things he says. He says everything for a reason.

“But I can’t speak for him. It is his opinion. All we care about is everyone in that dressing room. We know we have a job to do.”

Hartley stressed the Motherwell players were undeterred about being branded a dirty team by their many detractors in Scottish football and would stick to their usual game plan on their return to Hampden.

The 29-year-old also predicted his side, who have beaten Aberdeen and Rangers in the previous two rounds, were capable of causing a huge upset and pulling off what would be a famous triumph.

“If we take the physicality out of our game then we are not going to be the same team,” he said. “If we play Celtic at their own game then they will beat us. We have to try and make Celtic play our game. “

“Celtic have been head and shoulders above everybody in this league for a few years now. But our gaffer is working on a way to beat them and pick an 11 full of belief.

“In the semi-final nobody gave us a chance. It was only little old Motherwell. We are always the underdogs. But we won and we are going there to win again. We are not going there just to make up the numbers.

“We are going to Hampden to lift the trophy. We have full belief in our manager to come up with a plan. We also have full belief in ourselves that we can execute it. Celtic are human. It is 11 men v 11 men.

“We get a lot of criticism about being physical, but we are a good team. We are a team that plays football in the right areas. We do the basics well and when we get in the final third we create chances.

“You saw that against Aberdeen this season. We have beaten them twice and scored five goals against them in three games so we are no mugs.

“Without a doubt there is a distinction between being a physical team and a dirty team. I wouldn’t say we are a dirty team. Scottish football is very physical as well. If you look at our yellow card record in the league we are sixth so I wouldn’t say we are dirty.

“To win and keep a clean sheet at Aberdeen last weekend has given us a massive boost. Hopefully it will help us going forward into the final.

“The full team fears no one. That’s why we’ve we’ve had such a good start to the season. There’s a little bit of us going into it without a fear factor and the fact we haven’t played Celtic yet does help us.”

Hartley has come a long way since suffering successive relegations with Hartlepool and Steven age down in England, but he believes those difficult experiences have helped him at Motherwell.

“The worst moment was when I was captain of Hartlepool and we were relegated,” he said. “It is my home town club and I found it very difficult to walk around the streets. I had a dog’s life. That’s why it turned me into a man from a boy. It wasn’t just a job, it affected my day to day life. I couldn’t pop to Asda without taking pelters.

“You have to deal with it in a professional way. You can’t give back as much as you’re getting. At the time, when you’re stuck in that environment you think there’s no way out. But I was young and learned from it and here I am today.

“When you look back you realise and take the things from that situation and the experience I’ve had from being at the wrong end of the table so early in my career has helped me now.”