Jul 29 2010 By Fraser Wilson
PAUL CAIRNEY is desperate to get his season off and running when Thistle travel to Annan this weekend - but the midfield man knows he can't be guaranteed a place in Ian McCall's starting 11.
The 23-year-old was suspended for Saturday's curtain raiser against Clyde and watched from the stands as his team mates did a thoroughly professional job on their rivals.
And with competition for places hotting up in the Jags engine room, Cairney knows he's got a fight on his hands to get back in the side.
Thistle head down the M74 for their first ever taste of competitive action at Annan's tiny Galabank ground in the Co-operative Cup first round.
And Cairney said: "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get back in the team but that's all up to the manager.
"The boys did well last week against Clyde and there might not be many, if any, changes.
"I was suspended for the Clyde match but I also had a bruised foot so it was quite handy to be able to rest that.
"But I'm fit now and desperate to play at Annan. I've never been there and it's always nice to go somewhere new.
"The main thing is that we put in another good performance and get a win."
Cairney could struggle to squeeze back into the midfield with young Ryan MacBeth producing a match-winning performance alongside seasoned campaigner David Rowson and Bryan Hodge last week.
Add to that the arrival of former Kilmarnock playmaker Iain Flannigan and wide man Chris Erskine returning from injury and McCall faces something of a selection dilemma.
Ex-Queen's Park star Cairney is pleased to see the squad shaping up and believes Flannigan will prove to be a positive signing.
"I've played against Iain a couple of times when he was at Kilmarnock and he's a good player, he said.
"He can go past players and deliver good balls into the box. He can hopefully get among the goals too."
Meanwhile newboy Flannigan says he is desperate to prove his former employers at Rugby Park were wrong not to offer him a new deal over the summer.
The 22-year-old made 25 appearances in four years for the SPL side before his contract expired in May. He said: "I've got belief in my ability and I feel I can play regularly and hopefully help the team do well.
"It was frustrating at Kilmarnock because I didn't feel I got a long enough run in the team for one reason or another."
Former Thistle fans favourite Simon Storey has returned to Australia and signed for North Queensland Fury.