Baraclough keen to face Rangers

Date published: Saturday 23rd May 2015 6:29

Baraclough’s men closed out their regular Scottish Premiership programme with a low-key 0-0 draw at home to Partick on Saturday.

They were already certain to finish 11th and Baraclough took the opportunity to make nine changes and keep some key players fresh for the upcoming play-off final they will have to contest.

Rangers will provide the opposition after they beat Hibernian 2-1 on aggregate and the first leg will be at Ibrox on Thursday before Fir Park hosts the second next Sunday.

“It’s an exciting one, isn’t it?” said Baraclough. “For me, the players should be upbeat and excited about going to one of the great stages in Scottish football.

“Some of them will have experienced it already and that definitely benefits the group.

“But, hopefully, the inexperienced ones look at it as a chance to showcase themselves and make sure people remember them after these two games.

“You would hope there is no fear.

“Rangers are a massive club in Scottish football, everyone can see that and respect that. They have a good manager in Stuart McCall, who knows our players and the place he is coming to. That will be interesting and I respect Stuart.

“It will be a good battle and, for me, the team that deals with it mentally as well as physically will come out on top. And that’s where you hope a few of our experienced players help the rest of the group, to drive us on.”

Regarding Saturday’s quiet draw, Baraclough added: “I wanted players to step out and make a claim to be involved in the shake-up on Thursday and the following Sunday. The game itself had a real end-of-season feel to it.

“There were one or two stand-outs. Luke Watt, for a young lad coming in, did really well. He looked composed at full-back and, for the last half an hour, had to go in at centre-back. He can take a lot of good things from that.

“We got a clean sheet for Dan (Twardzik, goalkeeper) and his back four, and the rest of the team.”

Thistle also changed their side and David Wilson, Jack Hendry and the departing Ben Richards-Everton all started after Frederic Frans and Conrad Balatoni pulled out with knee knocks.

Boss Alan Archibald said: “We had a changed team as well, three guys making their starting debuts, so that was pleasing from our point of view.

“We were really, really pleased with them. We have lost a few boys so it lets us know there are a few boys coming through.”

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