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Match Preview

Manager’s Preview: Montrose – 7th September 2019

Saturday sees Gary Caldwell’s Thistle side travel to Links Park to take on Montrose in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup. Although the competition isn’t one that always features highly on a manager’s list of priorities, the Jags boss is determined that it is a competition his side want to win with that campaign starting on Saturday.

“We’ve tried to create an environment where we want to win everything. Whether that’s a game or a drill in training, a quiz during an overnight stay or a match on a Saturday, we want to be winners. The competition in which we play has nothing to do with that as we want to win every game we play and every competition we are involved in. That exact sentiment is what we’ll take into Saturday’s match and anything but absolute focus and the right mentality will not be acceptable.

“I think we create habits as a team. Losing becomes a habit but so does winning. You get in a run of doing something, and doing it well then it breeds confidence and you build on that habit and continue to do it.

“The season so far has been very mixed. The Betfred Cup has been positive and our form in that competition has been good and we’ve progressed. even within that though we realised that not everything was perfect and there were areas we needed to improve in and we did that. The league form though has been poor and has not been good enough in terms of performance or results. We know that and it is down to us to fix it.

“On Saturday though we saw a team that is capable of winning football matches and had it stayed 11v11 or even 10v11, I think wwe would have come away with the three points. As a group and as a club we now need to stay strong and believe in the work we’re doing and believe that it will reap benefits sooner rather than later.”

With the transfer window having officially closed for business Caldwell was able to add two new additions to his squad on deadline day, business he insists will help his squad achieve their goals for the season.

“I’m very happy with the business we did on the final day of the window. I think it has been another good window recruitmentwise and we’ve added competition in some key areas. I think Reece offers us a controller in midfield and Ozzy was someone who came up late who I actually had at Chesterfield when he was just a kid. He’s got a great attitude and offers us competition in that position which we didn’t have up until that point.

“The first four games of the league are gone now and there’s nothing we can do to get those back. What we must do though is learn from the mistakes we did make and ensure we come away a better team. I believe in the players we have here and I believe they have what it takes to turn our league form around.

“We now have competition in every position and that means that if any player isn’t showing it in training or isn’t performing on a Saturday then we have the ability to take them out and they know that. Competition drives success and that’s what we’re hoping for going forward.”

Remarkably a combination of injury, suspension and international call ups means that Caldwell will be without 10 first team players for Saturday’s clash. That 10 includes Alex Jones who received an unfortunate knock in training this week.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in my time in football to be honest but that’s why we have a squad of players to choose from. We know we have individuals who are ready to step up and this kind of situation just offers them the opportunity they are looking for. It’s then up to them whether or not they take it.

“Jones took a really unfortunate one in training. There was a collision and he rocked his ankle. He went for an X-ray that showed there wasn’t a break but he has an MRI next week to check for muscular damage. It doesn’t look quite as bad as we first thought but it will likely be a few weeks at least and we’ll just have to wait for the scan result to be sure.

“Sena will come into the squad as will Bradley Renfrew, Dean Watson and Andy Rodden. It will be a good experience for those lads and hopefully they will take it.”

The Jags gaffer doesn’t need anyone to tell him that Thistle’s recent form in terms of results has not been up to scratch and he knows that performing for spells in a game without getting the result is not good enough.

“I always try to be positive. I am confident in this group of players and I believe in what they can do. However, as we have seen in the league, we need to go out and do it more regularly. Too often we go out and show promise during periods or deliver over a part of the game without getting the result. That’s what we need to change but I firmly believe that with this group of players it is possible.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Lewis Mansell, James Penrice and Jags manager, Gary Caldwell, will all be available to Jagzone subscribers this afternoon – log in to see them.

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