ALAN ARCHIBALD is confident the future is bright for Partick Thistle after some quality time with the Jags kids this week.
The Firhill boss pulled on his boots to turn out for Scott McKenzie's Under-20 side in their 2-2 draw with St Johnstone on Tuesday night.
Youngsters Darren Brownlie and Liam Lindsay joined Championship sides Cowdenbeath and Alloa respectively on loan last month.
And Archibald is sure the club will reap the benefits of head of youth development Gerry Britton's endeavours at the Thistle Weir Academy.
He said: "It wasn't what I would call a big comeback.
"It's a compliment to our Under-20 boss Scott McKenzie that we had a couple of First Division teams asking to take a two of our young defenders out on loan.
"One of them went to Cowdenbeath and the other lad went to Alloa and they have both done well.
"So we were left short in the centre-half position and I stepped in to help them out.
"It was a 2-2 draw and I sold both of our goals! I would like to say that I went in to help them, but I don't think I did.
"I'm still sore as I hadn't played for over a year.
"The young players made it easy for me and I actually enjoyed it. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, but it was a reality check to see how quick it was.
"Gerry Britton has a huge job in his hands as head of youth development as we are starting off miles behind everyone else. But we are heading in the right direction.
"We had a 15-year-old who started the game and we had another couple on the bench.
"Hopefully we will get the benefit of that in future years."
After his brief return to action in midweek, Archibald will focus his attentions on first-team matters once again tomorrow when his side face high-flying Motherwell.
The Jags have not played since their 1-1 draw at home to Dundee United a fortnight ago and head into the Fir Park clash searching for a much-needed win to kickstart their survival bid.
Thistle remain embroiled in a four-way scrap to beat the drop and Archibald says they have made the most of their mini-break.
He said: "We've definitely benefited from it as it gave us the chance to sign Prince Buaben and George Moncur. It gave them a chance to settle in with the lads and get to know them.
"We gave the boys a couple of days off as we had a hard January spell and the same lads played a lot of games.
"So it was beneficial for us and hopefully we will show that tomorrow."
He went on: "We now have more options. Prince gives us a different type in midfield and so does George, especially as we are missing Sean Welsh and Isaac Osbourne.
"We are still looking and if there are frees out there then we won't say no."
While Thistle are fighting for their lives at the foot of the table, Motherwell need the three points on offer in Lanarkshire for a different reason as they look to keep in touch with Aberdeen.Stuart McCall's side are well in the hunt to finish best of the rest in the Premiership and Archibald is determined to make up for their 5-1 home loss to the Steelmen last year.
He said: "It's a massive challenge as it was a learning curve for us in the last game.
"It was the difference between an inexperienced side facing an experienced side who have good quality and punished us for mistakes.
"Anyone who was at the game would see that as we had a great chance to get ourselves 2-0 ahead but didn't take it.
"They then punished us for individual errors and picked us off. They could have scored six or seven with their experience.
"That was possibly a snapshot of our season, but we don't feel sorry for ourselves. I believe my players have learned from it."