ROSS DOCHERTY insists there will be no excuses this time around as Partick Thistle bid for promotion to the Premiership.

Ian McCall’s side were in the mix for the Championship title for a large spell of last season before their challenge fizzled out, mirroring the decline of the pitch at Firhill as the groundshare with Queen’s Park took its toll on the playing surface in Maryhill.

The Jags had a relatively small squad last year due to budget constraints but with the turf relaid and the squad fleshed out, Docherty believes there is nothing stopping the team from improving on last term’s fourth-placed finish.

“Looking at last season, we have to build on that and put in a serious challenge for promotion this year,” said the Thistle captain, speaking at Greaves Sports where the Thistle first team squad showcased their new home, away and goalkeeper kits for season 2022/23.

“The players that we have brought in are experienced and some of them [Steven Lawless and Aaron Muirhead] have won the league, so that’s the challenge.

“We look at last year and we were probably a bit disappointed that our challenge petered out. Whether it was down to the pitch, the squad size, whatever – there were a few different variables.

“I think if you look at that and you look at the ones we’ve added, there’s no reason why we can’t [challenge for the title].

“Dundee have come down and they probably have a big budget but other than that, the teams are of much the same ilk as last year.

“There’s no excuse. Touch wood, if we get a decent run at it and we get a decent run in terms of injuries then I fancy us to have a good enough squad to go and challenge.

“We need to add a couple between now and the start of the season and that has got to be the aim.”

McCall has brought in nine players during the summer transfer window but there are also a couple of promising talents who have been promoted to the first team.

Ben Stanway and Jai Stevenson will be in and around the senior side this season and Docherty thinks the team will benefit from their presence as he underlined the importance of Thistle being able to develop their own players.

“There are a few,” Docherty said of his new team-mates. “Wee Jai has been promoted and Ben Stanway has just been moved up into the first-team dressing room. He’s been flying in training – he’s going to take my position!

“It’s good to have these young boys kicking at your heels and they can learn off the players that are there. But their attitude is brilliant.

“It’s huge [for a club like Thistle]. Thistle are not flush with cash, clubs at this level aren’t, so they need to prove that they can promote youth and get them into the first team.”

As well as a few new faces in the dressing room at Firhill, there have also been one or two additions that Docherty is pleased to be reacquainted with.

“I knew big Aero [Muirhead] from before and I know his character,” said the former Ayr United midfielder. “I know a couple from having played against them but they have all fitted in pretty well. Big Harry [Milne] has looked really good in training.

“I think everybody is excited. We have a good dressing room anyway and a couple of lively characters.”

One ‘lively character’ that is no longer part of the Thistle squad is Zak Rudden, the centre-forward who joined Dundee in January of this year. A trip to Dens Park on the opening day of the league season means that Docherty and his team-mates will get the chance to catch up with the 22-year-old.

The Jags skipper recalled a post-match interview with Rudden and Scott Tiffoney that went viral last year – one where McCall felt compelled to apologise to the audience, because the pair’s “combined IQ is about a hundred”.

“Zak and Tiff will hopefully get together again! Zak done well with us and that interview with him and Scott Tiffoney was something else, shall we say,” Docherty laughed. “You’ve got to have those characters in the dressing room.”

Club captain Ross Docherty was wearing the new Partick Thistle home kit for season 2022/23, now available via