IAN McCALL has spoken regularly about the need to change the type of character in the home dressing room at Firhill and the Partick Thistle manager reckons that Tunji Akinola fits his mould perfectly.

The central defender joined Thistle on a one-year after being released by West Ham United last summer and a recommendation to McCall from Hammers boss David Moyes was enough to convince the Jags to make their move.

The 23-year-old has caught the eye in the heart of the Championship club’s defence this term – notably playing a crucial role as the Thistle defence set a club record for consecutive clean sheets earlier in the campaign – and those performances were rewarded with a contract extension last month.

Akinola’s displays have impressed McCall but the Thistle boss says he has been just as impressed with the centre-half’s conduct off the park, holding him up as an example of the shift in mentality in Glasgow’s West End.

“I said on our own media channel that when I arrived we didn’t have that connection between the players and the fans,” McCall said. “There was none, absolutely none. It was dead.

“There are a number of players now [with that connection] and Tunji is one of them.

“He’s been very, very good since he’s arrived. David Moyes and [academy chief] Ricky Martin extolled about him as a player but also the type of person he is – and they’ve been proved 100 per cent right.

“I think he could play in the Premiership right now. But more importantly he just wants to get better and he’s a really good type. Our fans adore him, which is great.”

Whenever McCall discusses Akinola, he does so with a sense of real affection for the defender. However, he accepts that a trip to the centre-half’s flat to drop off some medicine while he was feeling poorly over the Christmas period may have been the product of an ulterior motive, with Akinola dithering over signing his new deal at the time.

When asked about his delivery on Christmas day, McCall replied with a roguish grin: “Are you hinting there was a motive behind me dropping off paracetamol?

“It’s quite obvious he comes from a big family. I’ve had some good chats with his dad Shola and he’s one of the boys that was really quite poorly for two or three days. I remember saying to him, ‘has your mum been phoning you every five minutes?’ and he said, ‘no, every two minutes’.

“He comes from a tight-knit background. We had a big chat about when they arrived in London in the 70s, which I’ve got to say would not have been easy. They’re a very tight-knit family. He’s just a good individual, it’s as simple as that. He never makes excuses.

“Usually my favourites are the ones that are absolute loonies like [Andy] Geggan, [Ross] Docherty, [Michael] Moffat, [Scott] Tiffoney or [Zak] Rudden! It’s really, really nice when someone at the top level of football really puts their name to somebody.

“We had him up for 10 days [on trial last summer] but one of the things I’ve always wanted to change is the type of people we have here. That’s worked.

“I don’t want to get too deep here but he’s very keen to grow as a person as well as a footballer. I think that was one of the motives behind coming up and it was certainly one of the motives behind him signing an extension. Plus, living in the West End of Glasgow isn’t the worst place in the world to live, you know?”