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Match Preview

Manager’s Preview: Ian McCall – 18th January 2020

It’s a break from Ladbrokes Championship action for Partick Thistle this week as they take on defending champions, Celtic, in the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round. The Jags overcame Penicuik Athletic in the last round of the competition but now face a distinctly different challenge in the form of the back-to-back-to-back domestic treble winning Hoops. The two sides faced off in this season’s Betfred Cup just two days after Ian McCall was announced as Thistle manager with Neil Lennon’s side winning 5-0 on that occasion so the management team will be hoping for a closer game this time round. Jags boss, McCall, spoke to ahead of the cup tie:

“You need belief to play for Partick Thistle and it’s especially important for games like these because it’s a huge task, no doubt about it. If you pull it off then, I don’t want to say Thistle legends, but you’ll certainly go down in history as the team who ended the quadruple-treble or whatever it is so hopefully that’s a motivational factor for them.”

As mentioned above, the Maryhill men have already taken on the Parkhead side this season in the Betfred Cup which resulted in a 5-0 drubbing but Ian is confident that his side have improved in the time since that evening.

“We’d been on a decent run until last weekend and even in that game we felt we should have been one or two up after half an hour but they took a hold of the game after that. We’re much better prepared now than we were the last time we played them. That night we didn’t know the names of the players, it was crazy so we’ll be looking to give them a better game this time.”

The first new face of the transfer window arrived on Monday as Darian MacKinnon joined from Hamilton on a deal until the end of the season and the gaffer is happy to welcome the experienced midfielder who he feels brings something different to the squad.

“The two guys we’ve been playing in the middle, Stuart Bannigan and Reece Cole, are a certain type of player and Darian’s different to them. He covers the midfield and puts tackles in, breaking up play and being proactive in winning the ball back so we’re hoping that will bring a bit more balance to the team.

“It’s up to Daz now to show that he’s still capable of doing the business which I’m sure he is and then stay longer than the short term deal he’s on.”

Zak Rudden signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the club on Wednesday and the manager said it’s great to have the 19-year-old striker on board.

“He’s a player who we think has been a bit stop-start over the last couple of years but we feel he can improve us here which is why we’ve tied him down to a longer term deal.

“It’s a really exciting signing we think. We’re really looking forward to working with him and he’s someone who the fans will love too hopefully.”

Ian has had the chance to work with his new signings in training over the past few days and is hopeful they’ll both be able to feature this weekend.

“Zak’s ready to go, he had a couple of injury problems at the start of the season but he’s play 15 or 20 games for Plymouth and should be ready to go. As for Darian, he’s not played a lot of games for the first team or reserves. I spoke to him and it’s one where he’s fit but not quite fully match fit but there’s no better way to get match fit than to play against Celtic because we’ll need to do a lot of running.”

To finish, the manager gave us an update on the squad’s fitness.

“Shea Gordon is back running and he should be in full training next week. Ryan Williamson will probably miss out; he played last week and wasn’t quite right so he’s unlikely to make it.”

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