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Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Celtic – January 23rd 2018

It’s a return to Ladbrokes Premiership action for Alan Archibald’s side as the Jags gear up to face Celtic on Tonight in front of the BT Sport cameras. A solid Scottish Cup win against Queen of the South on Saturday saw a number of Thistle’s long term injury concerns make a return to competitive action. With a much healthier looking squad Archie was, for the first time in months, able to deliver some positive news on the injury front.

“We’re in a good position when it comes down to injuries with the majority of guys being back fit and available. Martin Woods, Stuart Bannigan and Gary Fraser will all miss out and Danny Devine is suspended as well – other than that we are good to go.

“It’s always important to come back from the break and get a victory, no matter who the opponents are or what way it happens. The important thing is that we’re into the next round and can hopefully keep the momentum going into the Celtic game which is always going to be a tough one.”

Once again it was on loan striker, Conor Sammon, who would prove the hero in Dumfries at the weekend, and Archibald knows that the in-form striker is a massive asset for his side.

“In Conor we have a striker who is hitting a good run of form. He’s confident and he’s scoring goals so if anything the break came at the worst possible time for him to be honest. Even during the break though he was looking sharp in training and he did well in the friendly so there certainly doesn’t seem to be a dip of any kind – long may that continue.”

One thing Archibald hasn’t had this season is options but, as his players gradually return to full fitness, that will hopefully change for the second half of the campaign.

“We’ve got different options all over the pitch which is something we haven’t really had this season. We’ve now got five full backs instead of two which is good because that was an area in which we were really struggling.

“Callum Booth came through Saturday OK and you wouldn’t know he’d been away to be honest – the yards he put up and down that line were fantastic. Most importantly though was the fact that we got that balance back in terms of the left side of the pitch. It’s something we badly missed and it helps us move the ball side to side which we know we can use to hurt teams. The added security of having our captain, Abdul Osman, back in the middle of the park is a real bonus too.”

Although recent games between Thistle and Celtic have – for the most part – been relatively tight affairs, Archibald is only too aware of just how important the initial breakthrough can be for either team.

“The first goal in any game in this league is always crucial but even more so against Celtic. It’s vital that we are at the top of our game and then you’re hoping that Celtic maybe have an off night. The last time they played here it was a reasonably close 1-0 and while they had a lot of the ball we defended stoutly enough and we just need to make sure we take our chances when they come along.”

Having beaten Queen of the South at the weekend Jags fans everywhere anxiously awaited the result of the William Hill Scottish Cup Fifth Round draw but could have been forgiven for feeling a little disappointed with being handed a trip to Celtic Park as reward for their efforts in Dumfries.

“We don’t get much joy in the cup draws but if you’re going to win it then you’re going to need to beat them at some point I suppose. All of our focus is on tomorrow night’s game though and doing our best to get the result there is the priority just now.

“We’re glad to be in the pack but obviously it’s never nice sitting second bottom in the table. The injuries we had in the first half of the season clearly caused us issues but we’ve now got 16 games left to start moving up the league and that is our focus from now until the final game. We’ve got massive games coming up but we all know what our targets are and we’re all pulling in the same direction.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Niall Keown and Jags gaffer, Alan Archibald, are now available to Jagzone subscribers – log in to see them. Jagzone members will also be able to watch highlights of the game.

Can’t make The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill? Jagzone World members (outside the UK and Ireland) can watch the game live – the stream is also available on a PPV basis.

Jagzone members can also listen to live audio commentary of the match.

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