The league is the priority but Partick Thistle midfielder Ross Docherty would love to see the club go on a Scottish Cup run, starting against Dundee United on Saturday.
United welcome the Jags to Tannadice for the third-round clash as heavy favourites against the League One side.
Docherty knows it’ll be a massive test for the Firhill men, going up against Premiership opposition, but insists Thistle are hoping to prove themselves capable of stepping up a level.
The Maryhill side are currently sitting in the play-off spots and hope to gain promotion to the Championship in what will be a frantic end to the season.
Kicking on with a cup win at the weekend would be the perfect springboard believes Docherty.
“It’s a massive test for us in terms of it being completely different for us, not dominating the game as we have done most of the season in the league,” the 28-year-old said.
“It’s a team who, unlike the last week or two, have been training and playing throughout the season non-stop.
“We’re wanting to win games and do well, proving ourselves against the bigger clubs, like United two divisions above, but the league is the priority, nobody is getting away from that.
“It would be brilliant if we went on a wee cup run. It would add to the congested fixture list but you don’t go out and go: ‘I’m not really bothered today’.
“We’re going to come and give our all. I’m looking forward to the game and I’m sure all the other boys are as well.”
Will Partick be fit after Covid-19 break?
With league action only returning at the end of last month for Scotland’s bottom two divisions after a coronavirus-enforced break, Doc insists they’re just happy to be back playing in any competition.
For the former Ayr United, Livingston and Airdrie midfield man, however, time off has benefited his recovery from a knee injury.
It’s not been the dream season for the Jags, expected to challenge Falkirk at the top of the table, but, sitting fourth, Docherty hopes they can build now they’re back on the pitch.
“It’s been a few months so boys are just happy to be back,” he said.
“I know there’s a big, busy schedule for League One and Two clubs, a lot of them are part-time, but we’ve got the luxury of being full-time.
“It’s still going to be tough but I think the majority of boys in the leagues will be delighted to get back on the park.
“Personally, I’m coming back from a knee injury so it’s nice to be back.
“The start of the season, we knew ourselves it wasn’t good enough.
“We’ve dominated the majority of games we’ve been in all season but just couldn’t score.
“There’s been a bit of slackness and had a bad run of injuries just before Christmas so the break was almost good for us.
“We got one or two new boys in, others back to full fitness and promotion is still the aim.
“I’m hoping we can have a good end to the season. Being full-time, we should be well-equipped to handle all the games, Tuesday-Saturday and maybe even a couple of Thursday fixtures if we do well in the cup.”
The gaffer – Ian McCall returns to Tannadice
Docherty, who signed on at Firhill last summer from the Honest Men, admits the pull of working with former boss Ian McCall was a big pull in him switching Ayrshire for Glasgow and dropping down a division in the process.
It’s been a hard adjustment, settling in at a new club full of fresh faces on the park and no fans, but one the experienced campaigner is rising to.
“Being with the manager was a big pull, it’s helped me settle, and I know a lot of the coaching staff as well from Ayr like Neil Scally,” he continued.
“It was a bit strange, at first, not knowing the players or being able to socialise but the more you train and are in amongst it, it’s a wee bit easier.
“We’re gelling more as the season goes on.
“We’re training at West of Scotland Rugby Club, they have an astroturf pitch over the back there.
“It’s just round the corner from Murray Park and I think the gaffer likes the quietness of it.
“They trained at Bishopbriggs before and it was a bit open and you’d get people coming to watch training and stuff like that so it’s better now!
“He’ll say himself, in terms of coaching, he doesn’t take a lot to do with it.
“He lets the assistant managers do the majority of the training but his man-management and getting people up for games and knowing which players he needs to bring in to the club, what kind of characters, he’s very good.
“You only have to look at his previous jobs with different clubs where he’s won leagues and promotions.
“He’s good to work under and I’ve followed him from one club to another so that tell it’s own story!
“What we had at Ayr was a good mix – a lot of experienced boys but also young guys who had maybe lost their way a little.
“They’d been younger at their previous clubs and had a slightly immature outlook on football.
“Then they come to Ayr and play 30-odd games in a season, something they hadn’t done before.
“You then see them gain consistency and start to improve. Clubs then take notice of that.
“That’ll be what the gaffer’s trying to build at Thistle and, hopefully, he can do it again.”
Former Ayr team-mates Shanks and Smithy are flying high
There are familiar faces in the Tangerines’ ranks for Docherty, too, in former Ayr team-mates Lawrence Shankland and Liam Smith.
Docs isn’t surprised their careers have progressed to both playing at Premiership level.
“I played with them both at Ayr and you could always tell that they were really good players,” he said.
“Shankland is a proven goalscorer and it’s no surprise they’ve gone on to do so well.
“Shanks has got a few caps for the national team and it’s good to see them doing well.
“It was always going to be a case of, as soon as the boys got a chance in that Ayr team that we had that they could go and prove themselves at a higher level.”
As for Shankland, who has struggled for goals this season by his high standards and was left out of the most recent Scotland squad, Doc is backing him to prove people wrong.
He added: “Definitely. You’ve just got to look at his career.
“He came onto the scene as this ‘next big thing’ when he was coming through at Aberdeen.
“He went out on loan, done well a couple of times, but after that it maybe never worked out at a few clubs so he was almost kind of out the game.
“He came back at Ayr, in the last chance saloon as such, and went on to have two-three brilliant seasons in the Championship.
“Anybody questioning how he’s going to react to a drop in form or not being in the Scotland squad, for me, I’m hoping he can bounce back.
“He’ll be looking to get into that Euros squad and, if he has a good end to the season, I can’t see why he couldn’t get in there.
“After Saturday, though.”