Ian McCall targets two loan signings as Partick Thistle boss welcomes Firhill pitch consultant as Jags look to improve playing surface

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The Jags manager is hopeful of bolstering his threadbare squad this month due to an increasing fixture backlog

Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall has welcomed the club’s decision to bring in a consultant to help repair the Firhill playing surface after a second Championship fixture was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

The Jags are ground-sharing with League One side Queen’s Park this season as Lesser Hampden is redeveloped and the extra usage of the park in Maryhill has taken it’s toll.

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During the winter months, the surface has deteriorated significantly to the point Thistle have now called in a maintenance expert to assess how improvements can be made after their match with Queen of the South was called off.

A club statement was released on Monday morning, which read: “We understand – and share – the frustrations of Thistle supporters following Saturday’s postponement, our second due to the pitch this season.

“So a pitch maintenance specialist will assess the pitch today to provide recommendations to the club on treating the waterlogged parts of the pitch. Improvements will be implemented immediately.”

McCall fears his side could now face a repeat scenario of last season’s League One title-winning campaign, where they were forced to cram in three games per week during the final months of the season.

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He said: “Anything we can do to help the pitch is a positive. I’m not sure how much we can do just now, you just need to hope you get lucky with the weather.

“We’ve got a very good groundsman, but there are just certain sides of the pitch that really needing some work.

“The Queen of the South game getting postponed was a real killer for us. We’ve only had two games cancelled because of waterlogged pitches, the other two were due to Covid issues, so it’s gave us a real problem, there’s no getting away from that.

“There was a feeling last season when we played all of those games in a short space of time that we did really well.

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Partick Thistle were relegated despite being just two points behind Queen of the South with a game in hand.Partick Thistle were relegated despite being just two points behind Queen of the South with a game in hand.
Partick Thistle were relegated despite being just two points behind Queen of the South with a game in hand.

“However, it did have a big impact on the players. Luckily we got through all the games but we had six players that just couldn’t play against Montrose in the final game after we won the title because their bodies were completely gone and they needed four or five weeks rest.

“I don’t want a huge backlog of fixtures but it is what it is. It looks as though we could be playing Tuesday/Friday which is far from ideal.

“I suppose the good thing is we’ve got a small squad but everyone is capable of playing so we can make changes.

“The bottom line of it is the situation isn’t ideal but we’ve just got to get on with it. Whether that impacts on our chances of competing for the top two or three places in the league, who knows, time will tell.”

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McCall admits he would have no qualms about rotating his squad over the coming weeks but revealed he would like to bolster his ranks with the addition of two loan signings.

He added “Just for numbers-wise I’d like to bring in two players, one in very specialist position and another.

“We’re a bit undecided in what we need at the moment. I think we’re well covered in some areas but defensively I feel we’re quite light in numbers with Darren (Brownlie) being out, so we’ll keep looking at that.

Ian McCall led Partick Thistle to the League One title. Picture: SNSIan McCall led Partick Thistle to the League One title. Picture: SNS
Ian McCall led Partick Thistle to the League One title. Picture: SNS

“We nearly signed someone last week but that didn’t quite go ahead. Hopefully we’ll have two players in by the end of this month.

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“There’s not one player in my squad that I don’t trust to go out and play well. Connor Murray hasn’t had many opportunities recently but he came off the bench against Kilmarnock and he trains brilliantly, so there will be chances for him and others.”

Ahead of tonight’s trip to face Inverness, McCall reckons his side will need to be on their A-game to return from the Highlands with maximum points given their lacklustre performance when the side’s last met back in October.

He stated: “The two best performances against us this season both came at Firhill from Arbroath, when they beat us, and Inverness when we drew 0-0 but four nil wouldn’t have flattered them that day.

“They’re going through a wee tough time at the moment and I know Doddsy (Billy Dodds) has had a couple of injuries to contend with to key players.

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“You look at the run Morton are on just now, Ayr are improving, so going up to Inverness is never an easy task.”

McCall confirmed full-back Richard Foster will be out of action for “two to three weeks” with a calf strain, while long-term injury victim Darren Brownlie has returned to the training pitch but is still to be integrated back into the squad.

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