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Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Queen of the South – 26th January 2019

This Saturday sees Partick Thistle return to Ladbrokes Championship action as Queen of the South make the long journey north to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Three points is definitely what the Jags are after but it will be no mean feat against a Queens side in good form and with Stephen Dobbie in good goalscoring form.

Thistle beat Stranraer 4-1 in the William Hill Scottish Cup last week and Jags boss, Gary Caldwell, was keen to emphasise the positive impact that result had on his side when he spoke to ahead of Saturday’s match.

“Last Saturday was a fantastic performance and we saw that from individual players and from the team as a whole. The result gets us into the next round which we are all very happy about but, just as important, is the boost it gives us going into a very important match against Queen of the South this Saturday.

“The objective for us, as coaches, is to make sure the players don’t forget those positives from last week and use them as extra motivation against Queens on Saturday. To be fair you have seen a difference in training this week and that is what a win can do. Confidence is higher and you start to see  sharper players in training. We must take that into Saturday, start well and hopefully get the win and three points that we are all working so hard to achieve.”

One of the stand out performers against Stranraer was Aidan Fitzpatrick who picked up the sponsor’s man of the match award. Caldwell this week moved to dismiss rumours about Aidan’s future and is as excited as many Thistle fans are about the 17 year old’s future.

“Aidan performed very well last week and has a phenomenal amount of potential. That being said he is still very young and does have a lot to learn but he is in the perfect situation to do just that. I was delighted with how he performed last week and look forward to seeing more of the same as he develops both on and off the pitch. And that is crucial, we need to help him grow not just as a footballer but as a person as well.

“Aidan has a wonderful opportunity here and he is definitely in our first team plans but we have to protect his development and keep him focused. Success doesn’t happen in a straight line so when he does have set backs we need to make sure we are there to support him and ensure he learns as much from those periods as he does from the good ones. He has his head screwed on tight though and is great to work with so I’m sure he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

It was announced this week that Kris Doolan would be the latest inductee to the Partick Thistle Hall of Fame. The Jags’ record league goal scorer is a fans’ favourite and Caldwell is delighted to see his contribution being recognised by the Club.

“I think his induction into the Hall of Fame is entirely deserved. Dools is a legend at Partick Thistle and for good reason. He has scored and unbelievable number of goals for the Club and always gives his all for the Thistle cause. Really, a manager couldn’t ask for more from one of his players.

“He’s a real asset off the pitch as well and has been massive for me since I joined the Club. Kris is a fans’ favourite for a reason and it is fantastic to see him getting this kind of recognition. He will quite rightly go down in the history books as one of Partick Thistle’s all-time greats.”

Jack McMillan became Gary Caldwell’s seventh signing when he put pen to paper on a loan deal this Monday. The Jags boss sees him as an important part of his squad who could make an immediate impact.

“Jack is a versatile defender and gives us some strong competition in areas where we have maybe been lacking that in recent weeks. Jack can play across the back four and has really hit the ground running since he joined the Club earlier in the week.

“Our full backs, James and Christie, have been fantastic since I came to the Club but we don’t have a lot of depth in those positions so it was important for us to get a player like Jack in. He is very capable and I know he will push all the defenders at the Club for a spot in the starting 11, that’s something every manager wants to see.”

The end of the January window is fast approaching and it’s fair to say Thistle’s business is not finished yet.

“I had a number in my head going into the window and we’re probably still at least a couple off that, depending on other players potentially moving on. Gerry Britton and I are working really hard every day to get the players that we need in order to improve this football team.

“We are close on a couple of targets but I’ve been at this long enough to know never to count your chickens – nothing is done until it is signed and completed so we will just need to wait and see. Gerry has been great to deal with and has been working incredibly hard to get the targets that we wanted into the building.

“I said right at the start of the month that we would use the whole window to do the business we needed to do. That means some deals might go right to the wire but the important thing is that we leave January a better team than we were when we started the month, and I am very confident that will be the case.”

The Jags remain unbeaten in 2019 and will go into Saturday’s game confident, the potential impact of which the manager doesn’t underestimate.

“Although we were disappointed not to take all three points, particularly from the Falkirk game, we are now three matches unbeaten and the new squad remains undefeated in 2019. That might seem like a small thing but it gives us a positive focus and we need to work to keep that record going for as long as we can.

“The longer these new players remain unbeaten in a red and yellow shirt the more the confidence among the squad will build. It creates a positivity and confidence that is only attainable by getting results in games. That being said we need to win games. Not losing is good but it only matters if it is a stepping stone towards regularly finishing games with three points. The important thing is we put ourselves in a position to do just that on Saturday.

“Queen of the South come to us on a good run of form and will certainly be a tough opposition for us to face. Stephen Dobbie is obviously grabbing the headlines but they are far from a one man team. He is clearly an important part of their team and I know how good he can be from my time playing with him a long time ago at Hibs. We can’t allow our entire focus to be drawn by him though as they have plenty of strengths that we must be aware of.

“If we are to win the game on Saturday it is crucial that we win both our individual and team battles. We have to keep our focus for the entire 90 minutes as we can’t afford to let more points slip away. We are confident, positive, prepared and determined and the players know exactly what is required.”

Finally, the gaffer gave the all-important team news update.

“I’m delighted to report that our squad is fully fit. The only players who won’t be available are Tam O’Ware and Shea Gordon who both continue to work hard on their rehab. That means there is competition all over the pitch which is very positive and give us some difficult decisions to make. Crucially though, it will also give us a very strong bench so we are in a good position going into the match.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Ally Roy, Blair Spittal and Jags gaffer, Gary Caldwell, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.

Jagzone members will also be able to watch extended highlights of the game.

Can’t make it to the The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill? Jagzone members can listen to live audio commentary of the match. JagZoneLIVE begins at 2:45pm on Saturday.

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