Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall surprised Scottish Championship has developed into league of two halves

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The Glen’s Manager of the Month for November will take his side on the journey south to face Queen of the South this afternoon

Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall has NOT been surprised by his side’s outstanding run of form which has yielded just one defeat in their last nine matches in all competitions.

The Jags find themselves two points of pole position in the Scottish Championship, which has developed significantly into a league of two halves this season.

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The current status of the division has surprised McCall who claims to have never witnessed anything like it in all his years in management.

Victories over Kilmarnock, Ayr United and Hamilton Accies and a Scottish Cup win over Dunfermline during the month of November earned McCall the Glen’s Manager of the Month award.

Asked what has been the key behind Thistle’s recent success, McCall said: “I think if you talk to any manager, when you get a run of games like that and touch wood, you don’t get any injuries – albeit we’ve had to mix and match a wee bit – it’s really good.

“It hasn’t surprised me (the unbeaten run), I think our supporters demand it. When I first arrived we were at the opposite end of the table and it’s far nicer being at this end.

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“I do think the new signings have enhanced the team. Tunji (Akinola) and (Kevin) Holt have been ever-presents and since they arrived have been absolutely different class. (Kyle) Turner has done really well too.

“The key for us is that the four or five boys that have spent the vast majority of the run on the bench – they’re all training brilliantly and they’re desperate for a chance, so long may that continue.

“It’s a really bizarre league this year in terms of how close it is. I’ve not known it as close and I’ve not known such a big gap at this stage of the season.

“To have two points separating the top five and one point separating the bottom five - and the points difference in between is 14 - it’s a crazy, crazy league.

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“We’re nearly halfway through now. It’s just really nice to be up at the top end of the division, fighting away and trying to get top four.

“I wouldn’t rule out one of the teams in the bottom half getting into the top five but there’s a huge gap now.”

Thistle are currently locked in discussions with three first-team players, who are on the verge of committing their futures to the club after defender Stephen Hendrie penned a contract extension yesterday.

The feel-good factor around Firhill continues last Friday when goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon set a new club record of seven consecutive clean sheets during the 1-0 Scottish Cup win over Dunfermline.

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Jamie Sneddon has been in brilliant form between the sticks for Partick Thistle Jamie Sneddon has been in brilliant form between the sticks for Partick Thistle
Jamie Sneddon has been in brilliant form between the sticks for Partick Thistle

McCall added: “In the last couple of games Jamie’s not had much to do but he’s done a lot of unglorified goalie work and done it really well - taking things in the air and using the ball.

“He made a great save against Dunfermline to get us a point in the league and he made a couple of other saves that have been really important.

“He’s done really well but I think he would be the first to say that it’s about the team, particularly the back four and the middle two.

“But even our strikers work their socks off to press the ball quite high up the pitch, so it’s been a squad effort.”

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Ahead of his side’s visit to face Queen of the South, who sit bottom of the table, McCall will take a quick detour on the journey south down the M74.

He explained: “I’ll go and see my mum who stays in Dumfries before the game so I’m looking forward to it.

“The only thing is that when I was growing up, Palmerston Park was the best grass pitch in Scotland and now it isn’t.

“I’ve heard whispers that they’re maybe thinking of going back to grass, but I don’t know if they’re true or not.

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“It’s a ground that’s got and awful lot of good memories for me – not so much as a player or a manager, but as a young boy.”

Brian Graham, Richard Foster and Lewis Mayo will all return to the squad after missing the Scottish Cup tie against Dunfermline, while McCall confirmed Steven Bell is pencilled in to play Rangers in a Glasgow Cup tie on December 1 as he steps up his recovery from injury.

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