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Hearts V Partick Thistle – 29th April 2017

With his side’s place in the top six already secured and the first post-split game, against Hearts, kicking off on Saturday Jags boss Alan Archibald was keen to make it clear that there was still plenty to play for.

Archie told “We need to win on Saturday if we have a realistic chance of starting to reel in the teams above us. It’s a real six pointer for us as we can cut the gap down to a point with a win. Winning on Saturday is the first aim because if we don’t then there could be a gap start to open up.

“I think it’s different this year because in previous seasons there has been a gap between sixth and fifth but for us we have a real incentive to try and cut that gap. If we win on Saturday it puts us right on their coat tails and gives us something bigger to play for. Yes it was a great achievement making it into the top six but we want to kick on and certainly don’t want to end the season on a downer.

“They’ve lost a couple of key players to injury and there has been a big turnover in terms of personnel so I think they just need that time to settle. Everyone loves going to Tynecastle because it’s a great place to go an play football but if you’re up against it the atmosphere can be tough. That’s why we’ll be looking to go there and turn the fans early to get the atmosphere working in our favour.”

Thistle beat Hearts 2-0 the last time the two sides met and Archibald is looking for more of the same this time out.

“I thought we were good the last time we played them, we stopped their good players playing and really fought for the result. I thought we deserved it on the day though and we’ll need to do more of the same this weekend.”

The club announced on Tuesday that Christie Elliott had signed a new two year deal – a piece of business the manager was clearly very pleased with.

“We’ve got Christie signed up and that’s the joy of finishing in the top six – we can start looking ahead and planning for next season. It was great to get Christie signed up as he’s been superb for us sine Christmas. He had injury problems at the start of the season but he’s been a great asset for us and his versatility is a blessing for me as a manager. He’s played left back and right back as well as wing back on both sides and that is so valuable.

“We’re in a good position just now in terms of players and we’ll probably only be looking to add two or three. The board were very good to us a couple of years ago and backed us by allowing us to sign players on longer deals so it gives us a real good bit of stability for the coming seasons.”

After a week to remember for Jags fans the team signed off for the spare weekend with a disappointing display against Rangers but the gaffer was clear that he was not expecting a repeat performance.

“The performance against Rangers last time out was really poor and we want to make sure we put that to bed on Saturday. It’s never nice going into a spare weekend after a defeat but it gives us extra motivation to go out and perform on Saturday. it wasn’t good enough at Ibrox and we’ll be looking for a big improvement when we travel to Edinburgh.

“We were suffering from a few knocks and injuries last time out but the break has come at a great time from that respect. Doolan and Erskine were both struggling but have now recovered and Abdul Osman also has a chance for Saturday. The only ones who are definitely ruled out are the longer term injuries – Sean Welsh, Gary Fraser, Ryan Scully and Stuart Bannigan.”

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