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Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Celtic – 12th March 2016

As he approaches the end of what must be one of the toughest weeks of his career, Alan Archibald spoke to about taking on the champions this Saturday.

“It’s been a tough week but the performances the boys have put in have been really encouraging. I think it’s much harder to take when you have played really well in a game but still take nothing from it. If you have played awfully it’s certainly frustrating but when you have been the better team for long spells and still cant take a point from the match, that really hurts.

“We took the positives from Tynecatle into Tuesday night’s game and we’ve looked over the Abereen match and will do the same with that. There are plenty of things we did well and perhaps just got undone by a couple of lapses in concentration. If we can play in a similar fashion come Saturday and focus for the full 90 minutes then I think we can go one further and take something off Celtic.”

The last time the two sides met Archibald’s men ran the Hoops very close with only a last minute Griffiths strike separating both teams. The manager knows how galling it was to take nothing from that game and will take that feeling and use it as motivation for Saturday’s fixture.

“To lose a last minute goal against 10 men was absolutely devastating but, again, we need to take that experience and use it to make us a better side this time around. People say Celtic are on a  bad run or that now is a good time to play them but you have to remember that this is the same team that scored eight against Hamilton not so long ago and we know they have that in their locker. We need to be at it from the first minute and keep our focus right the way through if we are going to take anything from the game.”

Alan was quick to dismiss any suggestion that Celtic may be vulnerable as a result of the pressure lumped on to them by Aberdeen in recent weeks.

“I suppose Aberdeen’s result against us has really put the pressure back on Celtic but that isn’t something we will be thinking about. We’ll focus on ourselves and if the pressure affects them or gets the crowd on their back then great but we certainly won’t be counting on that. We need to go out there and play our own game with the belief that we can go out and hurt them. If we do that then there is absolutely no reason why we can’t get a result.”

Jags playmaker, Stuart Bannigan, will again miss out for Saturday’s clash as he awaits the results of an initial scan on his knee having injured it at Tynecastle last week but Archie is confident his squad is now deep enough to cope with the loss.

“There’s no doubt about it, Stuart will be a big loss for us. He has had a scan and he is waiting feedback from the specialist to see whether or not he will need surgery. Obviously we’re hopeful it isn’t a bad one and we get him back soon but we are in a much better position in terms of our squad than we were maybe 18 months ago.

“We now have good quality cover in every position with the likes of Gary Fraser and Ryan Edwards ready to step up. We’re definitely in a much stronger position now than we have been in seasons gone by so I’m hoping Bannigan’s absence won’t hurt us too much.”

Apart from Bannigan, the Thistle manager’s squad is looking strong with only Mustapha Dumbuya (ankle) and Aidan Nesbitt (unable to play against parent club) unavailable for selection.

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