Friday 19th April, 2019 at 4:27pm
As the Thistle first team prepare for a massive game against Alloa, the full focus of everyone on the football side of the Club switches to ensuring the three points stay at The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
Despite the potential magnitude of the game, when Jags boss, Garry Caldwell, sat down to talk exclusively to ptfc.co.uk he insisted that the focus is on the game itself and not the potential ramifications in terms of league position.
“The preparation since we first came into the Club has been the same in terms of the analysis of our opponents and the information we give the players and of course in terms of the quality from the players during the week. So, from that point of view it hasn’t really changed.
“When it comes to the focus everything goes up for everyone due to the importance of the game and the stage we are at in the season. Every game has been important for a number of weeks now and we have worked with a level of intensity that I think has shown that.
“There is still a confidence and a certainty in the players that they know we have what it takes to achieve what we need to achieve this season. We’ve had that for a few weeks now and I think it culminated in Saturday’s performance which I think was one of our best. We controlled the game and looked defensively sound but most of all we performed consistently across the 90 minutes.
“We’re in a good place at themoment but we all understand that we must start converting the positives from recent games into points and, most importantly, wins as soon as possible.”
Although preparation is undoubtedly key for Caldwell, he knows that if Thistle can play their game effectively then there will be the opportunity to hurt Alloa, especially if his side starts well.
“We always look to play our way and hurt the opposition. We respect Alloa and we will be aware of the threats they offer but we need to be on the front foot and be the team that takes the game to them. We can look back on the last three games with real confidence and look to build some real momentum by taking all three points on Saturday.
“We enjoy playing at home and I think the size of our pitch probably suits us more than them but we need to make it count. We played well against them and won on the Indodrill pitch and if we play well out here then we can win again. We need to use the space to our advantage though, we can be expansive and use the ball to make the pitch feel as big as possible but, first and foremost, we know we need to be in the fight and match Alloa’s intensity in every aspect of the game.”
At this stage of the season three games in a week might look like an unwanted strain on a football team in Thistle’s position but the manager is pretty clear that the triple header is an opportunity, not a burden.
“We had to sit back and watch other teams pick up points last week and the week before but I told the boys “this week is our week”. Now we get the chance to play three games in a week when teams around us don’t and that gives us a great opportunity. It’s a chance for us to put a big marker down.
“We are in control of our own destiny and that starts on Saturday. we have three difficult games in a week but they are three games we believe that we are capable of taking maximum points from. We’re ready, the club is ready and we can go in with real confidence.”
With free supporters buses laid on for the Ayr and Queen of the South games Caldwell knows just how important the Red and Yellow Army could prove to be during the run in.
“They have a huge role to play between now and the end of the season. They have already been absolutely magnificent but we need them again for the last push. We need them to turn up in numbers and back the team, give us their support. We all know it hasn’t been good enough but we’ll get over the line this season and then we’ll be working to give us all a team and a club that we can be very proud of.”
Finally, with the squad for County last week impacted by illness and injury the gaffer gave an up to date picture of player availability ahead of Saturday.
“Steven Saunders had a niggle early last week and then picked up a sickness on the Thursday night into Friday. He actually drove up himself on the Saturday morning to be available to sit on the bench which really showed his commitment. Similarly Conor Hazard had a chest infection in the latter stages of last week which meant he was only fit for the bench. Both of those players have fully recovered and, apart from Andy McCarthy who has been struggling with a series of frustrating setbacks for a few weeks now, we have a fully fit squad which is fantastic.
“A lot of teams are fading physically now but i think we are getting stronger and stronger and that will be massive in the closing stages of the campaign.”
More exclusive preview interviews with Kris Doolan, Scott McDonald and Jags manager, Gary Caldwell, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.
Can’t make it to The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill? Jagzone members can listen to live audio commentary of the match. JagZoneLIVE begins at 2:45pm on Saturday.
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