Gabriel heralds hard work to boost Jags at Christmas

GABRIEL PICCOLO is confident the ­Partick Thistle defence will soon strike the right note after putting in the hours on the training pitch.

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Gabriel Piccolo is hoping Thistle can put their problems behind them when they get to Rugby Park this afternoon
Gabriel Piccolo is hoping Thistle can put their problems behind them when they get to Rugby Park this afternoon

A soft centre has cost Alan Archibald's side dear in recent weeks as they have struggled to pick up points in the Premiership and fallen to ninth in the standings.

The Jags turned in a much-improved defensive performance against Hibs a fortnight ago but were only left with a point to show for their efforts as Terry Butcher's side snatched a late draw.

Thistle make the trip to Rugby Park this afternoon and Mexican defender Piccolo hopes their hard work will pay off against Kilmarnock

He said: "It has been disappointing not to pick up more points but I am confident the wins will come.

"It is down to small details and small things we have to work on.

"Before the Hibs game, we worked really hard as a team.

"The last-minute goal was bad for us and disappointing to concede but we showed another side of our game and defended well.

"We worked very hard as a team and if we can do that again we will pick up more points."

While a lack of cutting edge has been the cause of many of Thistle's problems so far this term, a bad habit of conceding poor goals has also thwarted their bid to climb the table.

Archibald's side have not kept a Premiership side at bay since their goalless draw with Dundee United on the opening night of the campaign.

And Piccolo admits the Jags must up their shut-out rate as they bid to climb the ­standings over the festive period.

He said: "We have conceded a lot of goals at set plays and we are working hard to fix that. Hopefully that will start today at Kilmarnock.

"We need to get more clean sheets. If you get a clean sheet, you get a point. So it is very important for us to keep more clean sheets.

"It is another important game for us. A lot of results have gone in our favour. If we win, it would get us back on track and hopefully move us up the table again."

After a frustrating start to life at Firhill following his switch from Rayo Vallecano, Piccolo has appeared more regularly for Archibald's side in recent weeks due to the enforced absences of Conrad Balatoni and Aaron Muirhead.

With the defensive duo both available for this afternoon's Killie clash, boss Archibald has a choice to make about who to pitch in at the heart of his Jags rearguard.

And Piccolo is determined to continue playing his part after quickly adapting to his new surroundings.

He said: "I am really enjoying being at the club. Glasgow is a nice place to be, the fans and atmosphere at the club are great.

"I am enjoying being part of the squad and I have settled in well. I feel as though I am improving one step at a time. It is good to be in the team and playing football.

"I learned from the time that I wasn't playing and now that I am I feel that I am improving.

"Confidence comes with playing games and getting minutes on the pitch and that has helped me.

"When you are not playing, it is our job to be professional and to keep working hard. You never know when your opportunity might come so you have to be ready to take it."

Football

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