AARON MUIRHEAD cannot wait to get back down to business this season after spending several months on the sidelines biding his time for a game.
The Partick Thistle defender went under the knife in April to cure a knee injury, leaving his Firhill team-mates to complete the job and retain their top-flight status for another 12 months.
Muirhead will continue his preparations for the new campaign when Alan Archibald's side face Dumbarton this afternoon.
And the Premiership kick-off cannot come quickly enough for the 23-year-old as the countdown continues to their second top-tier campaign.
Muirhead said: "It seems like I haven't played in ages so I am itching to get going. We had our fourth game last Wednesday so I am getting used to playing again, which is nice.
"I haven't played for a few months so I am desperate to get back playing competitively again.
"It was a really bad time to get injured because by the time I was fit the season was finished. It was a disappointing way to end but, apart from that, I really enjoyed the season.
"It would have been nice to go to Parkhead for the first game of this term, but we have an extra couple of days to prepare for Ross County and we will be ready when the first match comes around."
Thistle will head into the new campaign in high spirits after an impressive return to Scotland's top flight.
The Jags eventually finished tenth as they achieved their aim of staying in the league but were left with feelings of what might have been as points, and places, evaded them.
Muirhead said: "Last season I felt we competed well with all the teams and, apart from a few mistakes, we could have finished higher up the league.
"It was so tight down there. This year, we will be looking to move up to mid-table. We have not spoken about targets yet, but I am sure all the boys will be looking to improve on last season.
"All you need to do is put a good run of results together and you can climb right up the league so that is what we will be looking to do. There are a lot of good clubs and there won't be any easy games."
The Sons clash this afternoon is the first time Thistle fans will get a chance to see their side in action this summer after Archibald and his squad returned from a training camp in Spain.
Forward Ryan Stevenson is the only new face at Firhill so far, and Muirhead is not fazed by the prospect of defensive reinforcements arriving in the coming weeks.
He said: "You are always going to get competition for places no matter what position you play. You need a big squad to cover for when players get injuries or suspensions. Competition is always healthy, it is a good thing and brings out the best in players.
"I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to get my place in the team and keep it. It happens in football, there are always going to be players there pushing you.
"Hopefully I will be ready come the start of the season."