IAN McCALL is viewing tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash as the unstoppable force meeting an immovable object as his Partick Thistle side make the long trip north to take on Billy Dodds’ Inverness.

The Caley Jags are the Championship’s pacesetters at this early stage, racking up four consecutive 1-0 victories to leave them top of the pile heading into the fifth round of fixtures.

With no other team in the division able to breach the Inverness defence as of yet, McCall knows his Jags will face their stiffest test yet in the Highlands – but the Thistle boss has faith in his free-scoring team, even if he doesn’t think his good record against tomorrow’s opponents means all that much in the grand scheme of things.

“I’ve had a few bizarre happenings up there over the years,” McCall recalled. I don’t think records count for much though. They’re top of the league and we’re second; if we win, we go top. They know if they win they go six points clear but listen, it’s very early days to be talking about stuff like that.

“It’s the team with the best defensive record against the team with the best attacking record so we’ll see how it goes.”

One man who is unlikely to feature against Inverness is Stephen Hendrie, who yesterday signed up with the Jags until January but must await international clearance before he can feature.

The former Hamilton and West Ham defender was a free agent after being released by Morecambe this summer and will be the Jags’ final addition until the transfer window fully reopens at the turn of the year.

McCall admits that his squad may not be the largest but he insists that his squad’s versatility and quality should act as some form of mitigation – adding that Kevin Holt’s performances at centre-half forced him into the market for another left-back.

READ MORE: Kyle Turner hails Thistle's fluency as playmaker ponders the Jags' strong start

He explained: “Stephen had a good season at Morecambe last year – I spoke with Derek [Adams] and he played over 40 games for them. He had a wee niggle but he’s fine now. He’s signed until January and hopefully a bit longer because he’s a natural left-back.

“We feel Richard Foster has been outstanding there since he arrived so like anyone else we sign, he’ll probably need to bide his time.

“We feel it was a good addition because we are short of numbers but we’re not short of players that can play different positions, so it won’t be an issue throughout the season – hopefully.

“Kevin has been really outstanding and that’s why we signed a left-back – because we don’t see Kevin going back there now. He needs to keep his standards up but he’s nailed down that position and he’s been excellent. Not just with how aggressive he’s been but his passing of the ball has been great as well, long and short.”

Glasgow Times:

The short-term nature of Hendrie’s contract means that the 26-year-old will have to make a quick impression if he is to earn a new deal and extend his stay in Glasgow’s west end. For McCall, though, there is only one thing the defender should be focussed on.

“He only has one challenge: to get in the team,” he said. “Like all the boys that are on contracts until the end of the season, it’s about wanting to be part of it here in the longer term.

“I think we’ve got eight or nine that have signed on a bit longer and that’s always been my plan because I didn’t want the type of turnover that we’ve had at the club in the last three or four years.

“We’ve now steadied it a bit and it’s down to Stephen to try and force his way into the team. He’s certainly got a great work ethic, that’s for sure.”

McCall has an almost fully-fit squad to choose from for tomorrow’s trip to the Highlands, with two notable exceptions: Darren Brownlie, who remains injured long-term; and Steven Bell, who McCall hopes “will be back in a week or so”.

READ MORE: Holt takes confidence as Thistle see off Stranraer

With Thistle’s triumvirate of Scotland Under-21 internationalists – goalkeeper Harry Stone, centre-back Lewis Mayo and striker Zak Rudden – all returning fit and available, the Jags manager admits he has something of a welcome problem.

“I definitely have a selection headache,” he reasoned. “Lewis Mayo has come back, Tunji has been excellent. Zak has come back and Cammy [Smith] has been excellent.

“Kyle Turner didn’t start the game [against Stranraer] so yeah, it’s a really, really hard team to pick. But hopefully the players that are left out are ready to come on and make a real difference. That’s really important, I think.”

Tomorrow’s trip to Inverness isn’t the only away-day for the Thistle manager this weekend. On Sunday, a Jags legends team will be playing against a Maryhill select XI in a friendly between the two local clubs – although anyone tagging along hoping to see McCall roll back the years could be in for a disappointment.

“No! Well, I’m not too sure,” came the response when asked if he’d dusted off his boots. “I’ll maybe just go along in a management role. If there’s a free-kick I might come on and hit it – unless Chic [Charnley] turns up, then I’ve got no chance of hitting one!

“We’re looking forward to it. We just picked the team actually – Gerry [Britton] is playing, [Alan] Archibald is playing centre-back but Neil Scally has had to settle for a place on the bench. Now he’s talking about not turning up!”