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Match Preview

Queen of the South v Partick Thistle – 1st December 2018

As Thistle return to competitive action after a weekend with no game, it is Queen of the South that will provide the opposition as the Jags travel to Dumfries to take on the Doonhamers. Despite the break in fixtures, Gary Caldwell was quite clear that the focus for the last two weeks hasn’t slipped and the intensity hasn’t dipped.

The Thistle boss took time with and started by giving an overview of what the last 10 days or so have looked like.

“The focus has stayed very much on how we take three points on Saturday, but without the pressure of a game last weekend we were able to train in a different way and work on some things that we might not otherwise have had the chance to.

“Some of our players have played a lot of minutes so far this season so it was good to get them a bit of a refresh and a rest as well. We played a closed door friendly last Friday which kept the competitive hunger up in the players and also gave us the opportunity to experiment with a few different shapes and with personnel in different positions.

“It has been a really good two weeks overall and I think we are in a great position to go into this weekend’s fixture. We’re confident, motivated and hungry to improve on a good performance away to Falkirk, hopefully by taking all three points this time.”

Thistle hit the headlines at the start of the week having spent a day training with Four Para in Garelochhead, Argyll but it was an experience that the manager took a great many positives from and was something he had been looking to organise from when he first walked in the door.

“That kind of experience is something we have been looking to bring through right from when we first came into the Club and I think it was hugely beneficial. I did it when I was at Wigan and it worked really well so hopefully we’ll see similar results here.

“We wanted to take the players outside of their comfort zone and force them to make tough decisions under pressure. One of the buzzwords, or phrases if you like, that I have used in the last six weeks or so is “be comfortable being uncomfortable”. That’s a mind-set we are trying to get into the players and that was a central theme for Saturday. What the guys with Four Para did was bring out the leadership qualities in each and every one of the players and I think that made them mentally stronger.

“We took as much as we possibly could from the day and it was a fantastic learning opportunity. It’s now down to myself, my staff and the players to take what we learnt into Saturday.”

As much as hard work on the training pitch has been a priority for Caldwell, building relationships on and off the pitch has also been key to his approach.

“You can talk tactics and work on the training pitch as a group and as individuals but I’m a big believer in team spirit and I think it can go a long way as well. We need to build relationships and an understanding between individuals off the pitch in order to get the results we want on it.

“Saturday certainly helped with this aspect of our work but it will be something we continue to focus on. Those relationships are growing on a daily basis as the players continue to learn about each other and it all comes together to build towards winning on any given Saturday.”

In Stephen Dobbie, Queen of the South have a striker who has scored almost 30 goals this season and, while Caldwell will make sure his players are aware of the threat, he insists he will not change everything his side does to combat one player.

“We respect every team we play and every player we come up against. When I say that what I mean is my staff and I analyse how the opposition will set up and the individual and team attributes that they have. We look at how they can hurt us and how we can hurt them. Most of all though we work to make sure that our players know what they will come up against when they cross that white line.

“Our approach won’t change because of one player but, as usual, we will be well prepared and ready for what Queen of the South will offer come 3pm on Saturday.”

Finally Caldwell went through the all-important team news.

“Other than the long term ones who are all continuing to work hard to get back to full fitness we have only had one additional injury concern, as Craig Slater picked up a knock in the bounce game last week. It looks like he will miss out on Saturday but it doesn’t look as bad as we first thought so we’re hopeful he won’t miss a lot of football because of it.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Sean McGinty, James Penrice and Jags gaffer, Gary Caldwell, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.

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