THE goals may have dried up a little for Partick Thistle lately but manager Ian McCall is feeling relaxed about the prospect of his previously free-scoring side rediscovering their touch against Championship table-toppers Inverness this afternoon.

The Jags are the top-scoring side in the second tier with 23 strikes in their opening 10 fixtures this term but after banging in 10 goals against Ayr United and Hamilton Accies, Thistle fired a blank in their two subsequent games against strugglers Dunfermline and Greenock Morton.

Tuesday night’s stalemate at Cappielow is not one that will live long in the memory but while McCall is expecting a stern examination when Billy Dodds’ side travel to Firhill this afternoon, he has backed the likes of Brian Graham and Zak Rudden to be back amongst the goals after taking heart from the pair’s return since pitching up in Glasgow in January 2020.

“It’s not a concern,” McCall said. “Going to Cappielow is not an easy game, they’ve had a lot of draws. We had two or three good chances to score.

“We keep going back to it but it’s the four we lost earlier in the season – they didn’t hurt us because we’re right in it – but we probably deserved one win and a draw or two wins out of that. If we had we would be right up approaching the top of the league.

“It’s now four games unbeaten. Like every stat you’ve got – you can say we’ve scored 10 goals in four games or no goals in two. It’s just how you interpret these things. It’s bizarre that we’re talking about our strikers because their stats since they’ve arrived here are incredible. I’m sure that will be fine.”

One fact that is significantly less open to interpretation is Thistle’s newfound steeliness at the back. Four clean sheets in their previous five outings is the sort of record that any defence would be proud of and given that the one goal shipped in that time came at the death in the rout of Accies a fortnight ago, McCall is feeling encouraged by his defenders’ output recently – particularly when the relatively small pool of players is taken into consideration.

“And the goal we lost was in the very last minute when we were 6-0 up,” McCall pointed out when his side’s defensive record was put to him.

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“It’s a settled back four: they’ve been terrific and given us a real balance in terms of how good defenders they are. The two centre-backs have done really well.

“I think when you get a settled defence it tends to work out quite well so long may that continue. Listen, we’re really short of defenders. We’re walking a tightrope until January but as of now they’re working really well as a unit and our goalkeeper is starting to show some proper form. We’re delighted for him.”

As McCall alludes to, the recent performances of Jamie Sneddon deserve their fair share of credit for the Jags’ miserliness at the back. After making a couple of howlers earlier in the campaign, the 23-year-old is benefitting from a run of games and an upturn in form at a crucial juncture in his development.

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His manager is impressed with the clean sheets of late, as you’d expect, but McCall is quick to heap praise on other aspects of the shot-stopper’s performances too.

“I think he thinks that [this is an important juncture in his career,” McCall added. “[Goalkeeping coach] Kenny [Arthur] always says to me he needs a few games to get into form.

“He made a couple of high-profile mistakes but he’s been incredibly sound for four or five games now. He’s made one or two really good saves – and a very important one against Dunfermline – but it’s all the wee things he’s done like taking crosses, his positioning on the park; his distribution has been excellent. He’s a great boy so long may that continue.”

McCall confirmed that central defenders Darren Brownlie and Steven Bell are the only players unavailable or this afternoon’s clash at Firhill, while on-loan Hearts goalkeeper Harry Stone rejoined first-team training on Thursday after picking up a light injury that ruled him out for the last few weeks.

Meanwhile, playmaker Kyle Turner admits that Tuesday night's goalless draw at Cappielow was a frustrating one - but conceded he is happy to be back in and around the first team.

"Obviously, I think we had chances against Morton that we could have taken during the match," he told the club's website.

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"At the start of the game, we had a good chance through Zak and a couple of corners as well and then Scott had a couple of shots but obviously, we’re disappointed with a point after creating some good opportunities.

"I’m feeling good after completing the full 90 minutes. The last full game I played was against Raith. I know I played in some games after that but it’s good to be in from the start and see out the full match.

"It was good to be back playing again. I want to get minutes under my belt, and I want to make sure that I can help the team win games. We didn’t manage to grab all three points on Tuesday but for me personally, it was good to be back in amongst the starting eleven."

Kyle Turner promoting Purple Thistle Day at Thistle v Inverness CT this Saturday, which will raise awareness for Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland, the chosen charity of Jags sponsor Just Employment Law.