IAN McCALL welcomes the distraction from the Partick Thislte's relegation battle and has turned his attention towards tonight's Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup semi-final with Raith Rovers.

The Jags currently sit rock-bottom of the Championship after a poor season but the Thistle boss is happy with the change of pace that tonight's match at Firhill brings - and is hopeful that his side can secure a morale-boosting win over the League One leaders and reach the final of the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2013.

"This is a great game to play in and an opportunity to get to a national final," he said. "We have never won it before and lost in the final not so long ago.

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"I remember Bryn Halliwell throwing one in against Ross County in a semi-final in my first spell here and we lost on penalties. When you get to a semi-final you want to win it.

"We know if we get there we will take five or six thousand fans and it would give everyone a boost. Raith have won this trophy before when they beat Rangers and they will want to get to another final. We are in different leagues but there is only one place between us so it will be a tough game. We have watched them in the last two games and I have a lot of respect for John McGlynn. They will be very well organised.

“If we can get to a final I would like to think it would give everyone a lift. Most importantly the fans, the staff, the directors and the players. We hope to use that as a catalyst but it will be a tough game.”

It will be a case of all hands on deck this evening for Thistle, with six first-team players ruled out. Zak Rudden and Ryan Williamson are sidelined through injury with a further four cup-tied for the game against Raith.

“We want to win it and see if the lads can get a boost," McCall said. "Four of our players are cup-tied. So we are without Darren Brownlie, Jamie Barjonas, Lewis Mayo and Dario Zanatta. This gives boys a chance to stake a claim for a place.”

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McCall has a successful history in this competition. As a played, he lifted the Challenge Cup with Falkirk and he won the tournament as Airdrie manager in 2008.

"“I remember when I played for Falkirk against St Mirren," he recalls. "Richard Cadete and Jim Jefferies had a heated exchange at half-time, I can’t even remember what it was about, Richard probably said something Jim didn’t like.

"We went out and we won 3-0 in front of nearly 14,000. It was a great day. I won it with Airdrie as a manager when we beat Alloa 2-1. These are great days and ones you remember.”

Ian was speaking at the Glasgow showroom of Macklin Motors, who have extended their partnership with Partick Thistle for a further two years.