THE irony of a player leaking a private message with details of a trust exercise they have been set isn’t lost on Partick Thistle manager Gary Caldwell. Neither is the irony of said breach of trust giving him a clear idea of exactly who he can count on.

In the lead up to his side’s critical last-day showdown with Queen of the South, where both teams will be playing to avoid the relegation play-off position, Caldwell’s assistant Brian Kerr took to the private team WhatsApp group to ask the Thistle players to submit their own starting XIs for the match anonymously.

That message subsequently found its way into the public domain, leaving Caldwell furious with the culprit, understood to be striker Ally Roy.

Roy won’t be on the bus to Dumfries this afternoon, and Caldwell is keen to emphasise that is he alone who will bear responsibility for selecting a side from those who do travel with him.

“It was absolutely ridiculous how it came out,” Caldwell said.

“It was a trust exercise, and in that way, it worked because I know now who I could and couldn’t count on.

“To be fair, it hasn’t disrupted our week at all. We have had a great week and we’re all pulling in the same direction.

“When I get on that bus and head down to the game, I will know that I can count on every person on that bus. And if you are not on that bus, I can’t count on you.

“I wanted to get the players thinking a bit differently and have an idea of who they thought they could trust. When you are standing on that pitch, you have to trust the man next to you one hundred percent. This was a way of finding out who the players thought that would be, and 99.9 percent of them were absolutely brilliant with it.

“It is a well-known exercise, I wish I could claim credit for inventing it, but it will have absolutely no bearing on my team selection. I select the team alone, and I take full responsibility for that.

“The choices of the players didn’t differentiate much from our own thinking at all, but it is me who picks the team and it is me who carries the can.”

Caldwell has now drawn a line under the incident, a distraction he could have done well without ahead of such a momentous afternoon.

The importance of this 90 minutes for the club cannot be ignored, but Caldwell is heartened they have the opportunity to shape their own destiny.

“It is a critical game for the club,” he said. “It is all about getting a positive result on the day that will then allow the club to go on and flourish.

“I don’t spend much time thinking about hypotheticals or whether we would have taken this situation when we were done at the bottom of the league. To be brutally honest, I would like us to be 10 or 15 points better off, but we are where we are.

“The positive is that we have our own destiny in our own hands. If we win the game we are safe, so that is where the full focus lies.”