Jackie: Fledgling aces can be high flyers for Scotland

JACKIE McNAMARA hopes his Partick Thistle stars will be rewarded for their fine Irn-Bru First Division form with an international call-up.

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The Thistle boss has seen his side storm to the top of the standings after an impressive start to the campaign.

A number of the Thistle squad – including defensive duo Stephen O'Donnell, Aaron Sinclair and midfielder Stuart Bannigan – are eligible for Scotland Under-21 duty and McNamara reckons his Firhill stalwarts deserve recognition on the international stage.

He said: "It is a good problem to have if the players are getting recognised and there is interest in them.

"To me, that is no surprise, especially with the way they are playing.

"There are a few of them that should be in the Scotland set-up.

"It is not down to me, but if I was involved they would be in the squad when you look at some of the other names.

"It is not my job, my job is to make sure they are doing the business for me and for Thistle.

"But there are boys there I think deserve to be in the U21s. We just need to wait and see whether they are picked.

"The most important thing is that they are performing for us. It would be nice if they were called up. I believe they are every bit as good as the players that are in the squad."

Thistle take a break from First Division duty this weekend when title rivals Dunfermline visit on William Hill Scottish Cup duty.

Striker Steven Craig faces a race against time to be fit for the Pars clash, but there is encouraging news on the progress of keeper Scott Fox as he nurses a thigh tear.

McNamara said: "We will see how Stevie Craig gets on this week and hopefully he will be available.

"He has been doing some strengthening stuff this week and hopefully his injury has settled down a bit.

"Foxy did a bit of straight line running on Monday and Tuesday so we will see how he goes for the rest of the week.

"The original timescale was six to eight weeks, but physio Kenny Crichton has done some great work getting boys back with injections and stuff like that.

"Hopefully we can speed it up and he is back sooner rather than later.

"Foxy will know himself. I will liaise with him and Kenny and see how he is feeling."

Two players Mac will definitely not have at his disposal are Christie Elliot and Bradley Halsman after the pair clinched loan moves to Albion Rovers last week.

Elliot will remain at Cliftonhill until December 21, while Halsman has joined Todd Lumsden's side until January 6.

McNamara hopes they can follow in the footsteps of Mark McGuigan, who has already impressed on loan at the club.

He said: "It's been hard for Christie to get a chance, but we have seen big Mark come back with confidence and hopefully Christie and Brad will be the same. It gave him a lift and he looks a totally different player, just because he has been playing well and scoring."

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