Friday 5th August, 2016 at 11:00am
The start of a new Ladbrokes Premiership season brings with it a new sense of excitement for supporters and staff alike. This weekend sees all twelve teams in the Ladbrokes Premiership play the first of their thirty eight league fixtures as another long campaign gets underway. Thistle kick off their season with a Firhill clash against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and ptfc.co.uk caught up with manager Alan Archibald after training to get his thoughts ahead of the opening league fixture.
“It’s great to have league football back at Firhill. The Betfred Cup was brilliant for getting players back up to full fitness but it felt like pre-season at times. Tomorrow’s match with Inverness is our first league fixture of the season so there can be no mistaking that the competitive football has returned.”
Thistle won all four of their Betfred Cup group games, something which has given the side a bit of momentum heading into the league season.
“Last year it took us until October to win a competitive game. During that time we even went out of the League Cup, so it’s good that we have got our first competitive win under our belts so early in the season. We have a tough start to the campaign with Aberdeen and Hearts coming up later in August but we know it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
“We have a difficult game against Inverness to kick off the season. They are a side who are high on confidence and will be a dangerous goal threat. They’ve netted twelve goals in the last two games so their attacking players will be raring to add to the tally against us tomorrow.”
With not a lot to separate most of the sides in the division, the gaffer knows each game will be a tough battle.
“Apart from the four teams that have big budgets in the league, there isn’t a lot separating the rest of the teams. Our first target will be to ensure our safety to secure our Premiership status for another season. We want to be higher in the league but we first have to ensure that we will be playing Premiership football in the 2017/18 season.
“We know every week that we’ll have to be at our best to pick up the three points on league business. There will be a lot of games decided by close margins so it will be crucial to get that first goal and we’re hoping to start that trend tomorrow at Firhill against Inverness.”
During pre-season and the Betfred Cup, physiotherapist Marcin Szostak has a number of injured players to deal with something that has alleviated with the league season about to begin.
“We had a number of players who were able to use the Betfred Cup as a path back to full fitness. We’re only missing the long term injured of Stuart Bannigan, Mustapha Dumbuya and Gary Fraser. The rest have been involved in training in some capacity. The game against Inverness will probably come a little too soon for Abdul Osman and Christie Elliott.”