Partick Thistle boss McNamara hopes to freeze out Cowdenbeath

JACKIE McNAMARA is targeting a perfect Christmas period to set Partick Thistle up for a shot at title glory.

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Jackie is hoping that Sean Welsh will return for the Jags soon
Jackie is hoping that Sean Welsh will return for the Jags soon

After crashing out of the William Hill Scottish Cup to Dunfermline last weekend, the Jags have their attentions fully focused on the Irn-Bru First Division title race.

They now face a tricky run of fixtures over the festive weeks, starting with tomorrow's trip to Cowdenbeath, which must pass a 3pm inspection today, as the big freeze once again plays havoc with the fixture list.

But McNamara is confident his side can emerge in good shape come the end of the winter as he aims to bring festive cheer to Firhill.

He said: "It is a crucial time for us. On Boxing Day we have Morton, we are at Airdrie on December 29 and Livingston on January 5, and we have got home games with Raith Rovers and Hamilton as well.

"It is a big six games for us, starting tomorrow, and there are a lot of points to play for. We're looking for maximum points to set ourselves up nicely going into the final run-in.

"You are hoping that the strength and depth in the squad will benefit you. We have had a lot of players out but the ones that have come in have done really well.

"Hopefully we will have Sean Welsh back at some stage as he has been a big miss for us, and Paul Paton will be back this weekend.

"The conditions just now are not ideal for training but we just need to get on with it.

"We can't use the pitch at Firhill. It has taken a bit of a battering over the last couple of weeks.

"It is getting a bit softer and it will start cutting up a bit but it is still looking pretty green, which is good. Our groundsman, Alan Findlay, has done a terrific job.

"It helps the way we play. We are going to encounter other places where the pitches won't be great and we will have to adjust. It is not all beautiful parks and great football.

"I think we will have to change things around a bit this weekend. It is not a very wide pitch at Central Park and it could be a bit of a battle.

"We will need to be up for it against Cowdenbeath. Hopefully we can match them physically and our quality can get us through it."

With less than a month to go until the January transfer window opens for business, managers across the leagues will be plotting moves to strengthen their squads.

McNamara is content with his hand, however, with four players already on the Firhill books likely to be the only additions to his pool.

He said: "The main thing for me is trying to secure Steven Craig until the end of the season, if we can. I am happy with the squad. We have players coming back, like Welshy, Christie Elliot and James Craigen, and they will be like new players."

Meanwhile, McNamara has been handed a two-game touchline ban following his dismissal against Hamilton last month.

The Jags boss will have to spend three matches in the stand, however, with one game being carried over from his sending-off in the defeat to Raith Rovers last season.

He will be banned for tomorrow's game, along with the home matches against Raith Rovers tomorrow week and Morton on December 26.


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