Boss Jackie won't throw Stephen in at deep end

PARTICK THISTLE defender Stephen O'Donnell could return from injury when the Jags face Cowdenbeath this weekend.

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Partick Thistle defender Stephen O'Donnell
Partick Thistle defender Stephen O'Donnell

The right-back has been a notable absentee in the Thistle line-up in recent weeks as he recovers from a foot knock but, after returning to training, he could feature once again when Jackie McNamara's side make the trip to Central Park on Saturday.

Having O'Donnell available would be a huge boost to Firhill boss McNamara but will present him with a major selection headache following the impressive form of his Jags rearguard in recent weeks.

That does not faze McNamara, however, as he prepares for another crucial Irn-Bru First Division fixture.

He said: "Stephen started a bit of training on Friday and we will see how he is this week.

"We don't want to rush him back. He has been out for a few weeks so we don't want to rush him and throw him straight back in at the deep end.

"It is important that we have a good squad, it is a team game. Hugh Murray missed out on Saturday due to illness and it gave James Craigen a chance to come in and play.

"We have got a good squad here, which I am delighted about.Dools (Kris Doolan) got the closing stages on Saturday but Steven Craig has come in and done well, he leads the line well.

"Dools started at Livingston and Dumbarton. He scored against Livingston but the Dumbarton game wasn't as great for us.

"He is a very important member of the squad and when he gets a chance hopefully he takes it. Like Mark McGuigan, he has to be patient and wait for a chance to get in the team."

AFTER a festive slump that had them fall five points adrift of league leaders Morton, Thistle have picked up the title gauntlet once again with wins over Falkirk and the Blue Brazil at Firhill on successive Saturdays.

They head to Fife this weekend aiming to narrow the gap on the Ton, and McNamara knows confidence will be key in the race for promotion.

He said: "I have a squad that are capable of winning promotion, they perhaps just need a bit more belief in their own ability.

"They have shown that they can play football, they just need a bit more of a cutting edge.

"As I said it was a good three points on Saturday. I said to the players after the game that was a match that last season we would have lost or drawn after losing the first goal.

"There is an expectation from the crowd and after the loss of the goal the crowd was quiet in the first half and the players had to try and generate the crowd and the atmosphere. I felt that we got the goals at the right time."

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