Tunji Akinola praises Partick Thistle boss Ian McCall for helping him settle at Firhill after penning contract extension

The former West Ham United academy defender has signed a new 18-month deal with the Jags

Tunji Akinola has become the latest Partick Thistle player to sign a contract extension which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2022/23 season.

The central-back joined the Firhill outfit in August on a one-year deal after receiving a recommendation from West Ham United manager David Moyes to close friend and Jags boss Ian McCall.

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The 23-year-old spent 14 years in the Hammers academy and had a successful loan spell at English League Two side Leyton Orient last season.

Tunji Akinola spent time on loan at Leyton Orient last season. Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

Akinola made his Thistle debut as a second half substitute against Arbroath at Gayfield Park and has been a standout performer at the heart of the Maryhill club’s rearguard during the first half of the season.

The Englishman has started 15 games to date, keeping 12 clean sheets and conceding a total of just five goals, with his performances recognised when he won the club’s McCrea FS Player of the Month award for September.

Akinola may have left London for the first time in his career but the defender had little hesitation in penning a new 18-month deal.

He said: “It’s been great and I have to credit the gaffer. From day one when I came up here on trial, he helped me settle in and took care of everything off the pitch. All I had to do was focus on playing my best football.

“His backroom staff also, Alan (Archibald) and (Neil) Scally, have been really good with me on the pitch, working on little things I can improve on and help me get better.

“All the boys have also been great with me. If I ever needed somewhere to go or something to do then they’d let me know.

“They made me feel very welcome and part of the group, so I feel I settled in quite quickly and I think that’s showed with my performances on the pitch.”

Partick Thistle's players celebrate a fine win.

Jags boss McCall added: “It’s no secret that I’ve been looking to get Tunji on an extended deal and I’m delighted that we’ve reached an agreement.

“It’s clear for everyone to see that he’s a fantastic defender and has been a vital part of our run of clean sheets as of late.

“At 23, he’s still got a lot to learn but he’s got all the attributes he needs to become a top centre-half.

“He already reads the game well and he’s got the combination of pace and strength which makes it very difficult to get past him. We’re delighted he’ll be at Firhill for another season.”

Thistle returned to Championship action on Saturday following a run of three consecutive postponements, with Scott Tiffoney and Zak Rudden on the score sheet in a 2-2 draw against Hamilton Accies at New Douglas Park.