Saturday 16th January, 2016 at 2:01pm
It’s a return to league action tomorrow afternoon as Thistle host Dundee in the next round of the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership. Ptfc.co.uk caught up with Alan Archibald to gather his thoughts ahead of the game.
“It’s a return to league business. We have three league games to play before we have our Scottish Cup tie against Dundee United, so we’re focused on getting as many points out of these three games first before looking to push on in the Scottish Cup.
“The last time we played Dundee we got a draw at Dens Park. That draw, I think, was the start of our lengthy unbeaten run and we’re hoping that we can use a fixture against Dundee to start a lengthy run of unbeaten form once again. We’re looking to push on up the table and we know a victory on Saturday will take us above Dundee so that is all the motivation the players should require.”
Dundee are one of two sides Thistle have failed to beat on Premiership duty since returning to the top flight of Scottish football in 2013 and Alan is keen to rectify that record.
“Games against Dundee have been funny ones. The last time we played them it was probably the best they have played against us over the two years but we got a well-earned point. The previous fixture at Firhill was a similarly strange one, we hit the woodwork three times I think but they got the win through a good strike from Greg Stewart. We will need to be wary of him on Saturday and we know the danger that he can bring to Dundee.”
A lot of speculation has surrounded Stuart Bannigan this week but Alan doesn’t expect the industrious midfielder to be distracted come kick off on Saturday.
“There has been a lot of focus on Stuart this week, but we’ve not had any offers so it has just been paper talk. Stuart has been fantastic for me over the last three seasons and, if he departs in the summer having helped Thistle stay in the league, then he’ll go with our thanks.”
Saturday’s line up will have one enforced change to the side which defeated St Mirren, with captain, Abdul Osman, suspended having accumulated six bookings.
“It’s disappointing that Abdul is missing but it’s something that we’ve known about for a few weeks and it has given us time to prepare. He has been fantastic for us but it is part of his role that he will inevitably pick up a few yellow cards and, unfortunately, he has to miss a game now. We’ve got several options for who can fill in for him and we’ve been working on it throughout this week so whoever we pick to replace him will be looking to put in a performance that means they retain their place in the line-up against Inverness next week.”
Finally Alan concluded by giving us his team news.
“Christie missed the Development League game through illness on Tuesday so he missed the opportunity to get more minutes in his legs as he steps up his recovery. Abdul is obviously suspended and we have a couple of players who are carrying knocks but we’ll give them every chance to make Saturday’s game.”