Saturday 2nd April, 2016 at 1:53pm
Preparations are well underway for a run of three games in seven days that will hopefully see Thistle challenging for a top six slot. First up is the visit of Kilmarnock, the side who currently occupy the relegation play off slot, and all at Firhill are firmly focussed on getting three vital points from the game. Ptfc.co.uk caught up with manager Alan Archibald as the side prepared for the visit of the Rugby Park club.
“Saturday is a vitally important game for us ahead of the run that we have. If we can get a victory from that game it will set us up strongly for the week ahead and ensure everything that will allow us to secure a place in the top six is firmly in our hands. If we don’t get all three points we’re relying on favours elsewhere to get to where we want to be.
“Kilmarnock are fighting for their lives and have a new manager who is trying to introduce his own style of play. They have added a couple of quality players during the last few days and they will be desperate to come to Firhill and close the gap on the sides above them. We have to be up for the fight from the first whistle and prove that we are hungry enough to come out on top.”
The international break came at a good time for Thistle and has allowed the side to have a breather ahead of the three matches ahead.
“Prior to the international break we had a run of 6 games in about 19 days and within that we had a core of six or seven players who played in every game. The break came at a good time as it meant we could give the players some time off, while training last week went at a more relaxed pace just to keep everyone ticking over ahead of coming in and getting back down to work on Monday.
“The players will always tell you they want to play games but there comes a point where a breather is needed to recharge the batteries and make sure the players can continue to give 100% in the games ahead. The players have done ever so well to get us to where we are now, we just need to go out and finish the job to secure our safety as quickly as possible.”
With the conclusion of another heavy campaign in sight, Alan admits that sights are beginning to turn to next season, but insists his side have a job to do first.
“We’re not mathematically safe from relegation yet, although we do have a good cushion. Saturday presents a massive incentive for the players to go 12 points clear of Kilmarnock and it will be a major boost to have that gap. If we can sneak into that top six slot then it is another way that we can persuade potential signings to join the club, as we’re selling the team as a top six one and that will be an attraction.
“We’re looking to tie up some of our out of contract players and I think we’re very close with a couple of them. Some of the players that are in our squad have played the best football of their career at Firhill and we hope that will prove a factor for them to stay.”
Finally the gaffer concluded with team news ahead of the game against Kilmarnock.
“Stuart Bannigan is our only long term absentee that is missing. Liam Lindsay is a doubt as he is still suffering the effects of the hamstring injury he picked up in the warm up against Hamilton Accies a couple of weeks ago. There are a couple who have niggles and knocks that are pretty common at this stage of the season, and we’re confident they will all make it for the game.
“We’ll also have Mustapha Dumbuya almost fully fit. He managed 30 minutes against Hamilton and I think everyone can see the boost he gave the side as we looked to get the win. While he wasn’t able to get forward as much as we know he can, he presented a solid defensive option and it’s good to get him back to training. He’s a little short with the minutes of football he has played, but he has three games in a week to pick them up.”