SEAN MCGINTY watched on this summer as two of his former teammates starred at the World Cup, and then went on to take his bow in the Scottish leagues amid the rather less salubrious surroundings of Somerset Park, Ayr.

But the big defender is more than happy with his lot as he takes the next step in what he hopes will be his route back to the top with Partick Thistle.

McGinty used to strut his stuff alongside Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard in the Manchester United youth ranks, and while he was always convinced of Pogba’s megastar potential, he is a little surprised at the divergence in career paths between himself and Lingard since those heady days.

But the bumps he has suffered along the road to Maryhill, such as relegation last season as captain of Torquay, have only made him more determined to succeed at Firhill.

“I was playing with Pogba and Lingard,” McGinty said. “ Ravel Morrison and Sam Johnstone, who is at West Brom now, were there too.

“Pogba was a level above, but you couldn’t see that Lingard would go on to have the career he has.

“He has come out of nowhere, he was very small back then. He had a bit of a growth spurt, has been in the gym a bit, and now he’s playing for England.

“It’s pretty strange for me to watch that, because he wasn’t even really starting in the under-18s, but everyone peaks at different ages.

“I left Charlton at 15 to move to Manchester. I was there for four years and really enjoyed it.

“It’s a fantastic club. We won the Youth Cup and they haven’t won it since. It was a fantastic time and I learned a lot.

“The experience stands you in such good stead. When my family moved back down south I was up there on my own, and you get used to being independent.

“I’ve been at five or six loan clubs, and I think that grounding at United where they really talk to you and support you helped me immensely.

“I’m enjoying it here because the facilities at Thistle are better than they were at Torquay, and it’s nice to be back at a club where everything is done properly. That can only help us in the season ahead.”

McGinty’s and Thistle’s first step on their Championship journey was a faltering one, with the centre-back holding his hands up to the clumsy penalty he conceded to allow Ayr to get a vital early goal in their 2-0 win.

But he is hoping that Thistle will be better equipped to get off the mark in Saturday’s home match against Falkirk.

“I’ve watched the penalty back and it was maybe a little bit outside, but I shouldn’t be making that challenge,” he said.

“It all happened very quickly, and I’ve given the referee a decision to make. I’ve dangled my leg out, he’s gone over it and it’s a penalty.

“The second goal came from a number of errors again, and then it’s an uphill task.

“There’s a lot of new players and it will take time, but we’ve had four games now and we need to get it right sooner rather than later.

“That will be the aim on Saturday, and it’s hugely important that we get the three points.”