Ross Docherty gunning for top-flight return as Partick Thistle skipper outlines strength of summer signings
The 29-year-old has been impressed with the calibre of player Ian McCall has brought to the club so far this summer.
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The Jags skipper has been a mainstay in the side in recent years but was left gutted as the Maryhill outfit missed out on back-to-back promotions after losing to Inverness over two legs in the play-off semi-final.
The 29-year-old is determined to improve on the club’s points tally of 52 last term, admitting a bigger squad and new playing surface at Firhill could improve their fortunes.
Docherty believes Thistle are in a much stronger place now than where they found themselves towards the tale end of last season - admitting a return to the top-flight has to be the main target.
Reflecting on last season’s near miss, Docherty told GlasgowWorld: “We reached a stage where we were maybe four or five points off the top of the table with around ten games to go and I think that’s when you start to dream a wee bit.
“I think maybe a combination of the pitch surface and having a smaller squad played against us in the last few weeks.
“On the whole it was a good season but it was just disappointing the way it petered out a bit at the end. Hopefully we can start this season positively and kick on again.
“We’ll see how the season progresses but the main the thing for us is we’ve got to improve on our points tally from last season. We finished fourth and we’re building the squad back up again to hopefully mount a title challenge.
“The core of the squad have been here for a few years now and I think if you can keep that in place and add quality round about it then that will benefit us going forward.”
Thistle have already signed six new players ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, with David Mitchell (Hibernian), Harry Milne (Cove Rangers), Jack McMillan (Livingston), Aaron Muirhead (Ayr United), Anton Dowds (Falkirk) and club legend Stevie Lawless (Dunfermline) joining the Firhill club.
Docherty has been impressed by the calibre of player Ian McCall has brought to the club and he signalled out one summer addition that will help aid their promotion cause significantly next season.
Thistle are currently in the middle of their pre-season schedule having already played League One sides Alloa Athletic, Kelty Hearts and Clyde in friendlies.
Docherty added: “It’s been good to get some minutes into the legs again. We had about five weeks off but I was ready to get back into it.
“The manager touched on it the other week that this was probably the earliest start we’ve had for pre-season games. As players you don’t mind it as much because it means less running in training!
“Anton (Dowds) only trained with us for the first time last Monday as he’s been off with Covid, but you can already see the impact he has made.
“He said he felt a bit heavy-legged after the Alloa game but you just have to look at the impact he had in that game to tell you he will have an important role to play. Hopefully he can lift some of the goal scoring burden of Brian (Graham).
“The gaffer has brought in a few experienced heads like Muirhead and Lawless as well. I played with Aero at Ayr United and Stevie knows the club very well, so these guys will be vital in terms of pushing for promotion.”
Docherty believes the future is bright for Partick Thistle with the emergence of promising youth trio Ben Stanway, James Lyons and Billy Owens.
He added: “Ben, James and Billy have all done really well and look sharp in training. I’m sure they’ll get more game time in the first-team this season.
“I’ve played in midfield with Ben and James on a few occasions and I can see how well they’re progressing. They’ve made it easy for me at times, so it’s going to be a massive season for the young boys.
“I know James and Billy are a wee bit older but the younger players have got time on their side and it’s massive that they’ll be training with the first-team and learning off the coaching staff.
The former Ayr United stalwart is already planning for life after football as he delivered a training session to a group of refugees and migrants as part of the ‘Jags For Good’ initiative last week.
He admitted: “I’ve started my coaching badges and I’m helping out with the Thistle women’s team as well again next season, so I’ve gained a bit of experience from helping Brian take the team.
“It’s been good experience for me and something that I’m looking to do after my playing career.”
*Jags For Good are an independent and fan-led group that mobilises Partick Thistle fans for social justice causes in Maryhill and across Glasgow. They have raised over £8,000 since April to buy season tickets for local charities and organised foodbank donations drives.