Niall Keown hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to Partick Thistle next season, but he feels ready to fight for a place at Reading after making the most of his loan spell at Firhill.

The central defender has been an impressive addition to a Thistle defence that has lost just 10 goals in 15 games since his arrival in late January, with the 22-year-old playing in 13 of those matches.

The loan move has been just as beneficial to the player as it has the club, with Keown enjoying the longest run of first-team games to date in his career after a series of injuries hampered his development.

He feels that he has improved massively under the guidance of Jags boss Alan Archibald, who he has thanked for backing his ability despite his lack of previous experience.

“As far as I know at the moment, I’m still a Reading player and that will remain the case,” Keown said.

“I’m going back there to fight for my place for next season, and until I hear otherwise I’ve still got another year there at least.

“It’s been a fantastic experience here, but the prospect of coming back again on loan is something that I’ll have to discuss with Reading and the manager here or wherever it would be.

“I’m open to any options, whatever is going to be the best move for me, but it is something that I will have to sit down and discuss with Reading at the end of the season.

“It’s been fantastic here though and I’ve been really pleased with how things have gone.

“Firstly, it’s been great just to be part of such a big achievement for the club with it being 36 years since we have been in the top six, and it’s an honour to have been a part of that.

“I’ve only got good things to say about the club. The fans have been fantastic too. They’ve always been very supportive and it’s been great to see how pleased they have been with the season, and how much they are enjoying the moment of what we’ve achieved.

“The move has given me the experience that I massively needed. I’ve had a number of bad injuries and a bit of bad luck over the last three or four years, so I’ve not really been fit enough for long enough to get the run of games that I’ve wanted.

“This was a massive opportunity and I’m really grateful for the manager for showing that faith in me.

“I haven’t played a massive amount of first-team games before I came here, but I knew I was ready for the challenge.

“It’s been great for my development.”

In Keown and Thistle’s immediate future is a chance to make amends for a disappointing recent display at Ibrox as Rangers come calling to Firhill on Sunday.

“I think that the game at Ibrox was maybe a case of putting so much into the previous weeks to try and achieve the top six, and once we were there, we suddenly didn’t perform in the way we would have liked,” he said.

“We want to put the fact that we are the only ones not to take points off of Rangers to bed, and we want to go out there and win the game.

“It will be good to be out there in front of our own fans again and I’m sure that Rangers will bring a good support too, and we want to put things right and show everyone that we are a better team than the one who turned up at Ibrox.”