IAN McCALL reckons that he will add another defender to his Partick Thistle squad by the start of next week as the Jags gear up for their final Premier Sports Cup group stage fixture at home to Montrose this afternoon.

A victory for the Championship club will guarantee their progression to the last 16 and McCall is cautiously optimistic about his side’s chances of seeing off Stewart Petrie’s men.

Thistle completed a move for 27-year-old striker Danny Mullen, who left Dundee at the end of last season, on Thursday afternoon and McCall will be happy with his squad once he brings in one final defensive reinforcement.

“Montrose will be smarting from getting beat [by Stenhousemuir] because it is very unlike them,” McCall observed. “It will be a really tough game but we know that the win takes us through and that’s what we will try and do.

“I think we are close now [to adding a defender]. He may be playing for his club tomorrow and he is not one I could have done now anyway because he has already played in the League Cup.

“We are hoping to get that done early in the week. It will just be a loan up until January with a view to maybe even longer. The player in question will cover both sides at full-back, can play in a back three and is quite experienced at that level. So we are hoping to get that done but we’ll see.”

McCall revealed that the Jags had fended off suitors from England to sign Mullen, who has signed a one-year deal at Firhill after departing Dens Park. So why did the striker opt for Thistle?

“Because we are the greatest club in Britain,” McCall replies. “Simple.

“He has done a lot of training on his own but he does look fit, there’s no doubt about it,” McCall said of the centre-forward. “He will certainly get a bit of the game [against Montrose]. The sooner we get him involved, the better.

“I’m pleased to get him. He is a different profile of striker to the other two that we have got. He did well at Dundee and got offered a new contract there. I don’t know the ins and outs of it. We are pleased to get him on board and it is a big season for him. First of all he has to get into our team, do really well, score goals and see where that takes him.

“[The deal] had been bubbling away a wee bit. It took a week or two. At one point he may have been going down to England, which would have blown us out of the water, but thankfully we managed to get it done.”

There are now three out-and-out strikers on the books at Thistle for the upcoming campaign – Mullen, Brian Graham and summer arrival Anton Dowds – and although McCall has stuck fairly rigidly to a 4-3-3 formation during pre-season and the League Cup, the Jags boss likes having the option to change things around.

The cyclical nature of certain shapes and approaches going in and out of fashion is not lost on McCall.

“We have been playing three up top,” he said. “It does give us the chance to play differently.

“We play in a 4-3-3 just now but most players know how to play in a 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 or a 3-5-2, so it gives us a lot of options.

“I was actually looking at my notebook from 1998 and it was Clydebank versus someone I can’t remember. The formation I played that day 24 years ago was 3-4-2-1 so I was ahead of my time I that respect. It’s now back in vogue but it had fallen out of vogue for a long time.”

McCall wasn’t quite able to report a full bill of health for this afternoon’s match against Montrose but most players are fit and available. Scott Tiffoney is continuing his comeback and today’s game appears to have come too soon for the winger, although midfield stalwart Stuart Bannigan is set to return.

McCall added: “Aero [Aaron Muirhead] misses out, Tiff trained and did quite a lot today. He will probably take part in the session on Sunday at the open day. Everybody else is okay. Bannigan is absolutely fine.”