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Aug 22, 2014

Lawless fitness a bonus for Thistle

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Steven Lawless believes Partick have effectively got a new player for this season now that he is 100 per cent fit.

The 23-year-old winger struggled for most of the last campaign with a niggling ankle complaint which only healed during the summer.

Lawless, who signed a new one-year deal near the end of May, has started Thistle's first two games and ahead of the visit of Hamilton on Saturday he admitted being "stupid" in playing through the injury.

However, he is determined to make up for it this season.

He said: "I was carrying an injury last season and it prevented me from going full out.

"I took it into games. It was probably stupid on my part. I maybe shouldn't have played in some matches.

"Sometimes I went over on it and that would take me out of the game for 10 minutes.

"At times last season I killed myself and the team by doing stuff like that - so hopefully I can learn from that and come back a new player this year.

"It wasn't major, just a niggle. But I have learned from my mistakes and I won't do it again.

"It needed some rest and I let it heal over the summer and it is back to full strength.

"I have managed to get myself into the team and hopefully I can stay there."

The only personal target Lawless would reveal for the season ahead is his desire to again finish ahead of midfielder Stuart Bannigan in the goals table.

"As long as I beat Stuart Bannigan for goals, that is all that matters," he said.

"He is one ahead. He has not been able to touch me for years. I think it is 14-2 the first year and 5-0 last year.

"He has a lead now so hopefully he can give me a bit of a challenge this year."

Lawless, though, does not expect to get it easy against newly-promoted Accies.

Alex Neil's side recovered from an opening day defeat to Inverness with wins over St Mirren and St Johnstone.

Lawless explained: "We were tipped to go down last season so I am sure Hamilton will think it is an advantage if people are going to underestimate them.

"We felt like that year, that teams weren't giving us the credit we deserved.

"So we won't be silly and doubt them. We know they are a good team.

"We played against most of the boys the year we were in their league.

"They are more experienced now, they have added a bit more quality and they are playing good football."

Ben Richards-Everton has been confirmed as Partick's most recent signing but it is uncertain whether he will be involved at Firhill on Saturday.

The 22-year-old defender joined from English Conference North side Tamworth on Thursday subject to international clearance which arrived on Friday.

Goalkeeper Scott Fox is suspended after being sent off at Dundee last week while defender Jordan McMillan misses out with a hamstring injury

Hamilton player-manager Alex Neil has vowed to treat Scottish Premiership triumph and disaster as equal imposters this season.

After losing the opening game of the season at home to Inverness Neil noted that his newly-promoted side were immediately consigned by some to relegation back to the Championship.

The Accies responded to that early setback by beating St Mirren and St Johnstone in their next two games to have critics reconsidering their predictions but, ahead of the trip to Partick, Neil refused to get carried away by the swift turnaround in fortunes.

"Football is fickle," he said. "One minute you are great, the next you are hopeless.

"We are not getting carried away. We have played well in two games and managed to win those games but it is going to be a long hard season.

"There was no point in panicking (after first game), it was only one game, three points, and there are going to be games where you will play really well and not get three points and games where you don't deserve to win but pick them up.

"So you can't get too carried away when you are doing well and get too down when you are not.

"You have to remain on course, work as hard as you can, and hope it swings in your favour.

"We just want points on the board. It relieves the pressure and lets the boys go out and express themselves.

"We are happy with what we have done so far but we have a lot of work to do and need to start again tomorrow."

Jon Routledge is the only absentee from the Hamilton squad. The midfielder has recovered from his knee injury but is still building up fitness.

The Accies and Thistle last locked horns in the second-tier two seasons ago before the Firhill side were promoted as champions.

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