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Neil: Hamilton are wary of Thistle's strength

ALEX NEIL believes Partick Thistle are likely to prove a much tougher proposition than when the Glasgow side last squared up to his Hamilton Academical team.

However, Neil is confident his players can continue their fine start to the campaign at Firhill this afternoon.

Hamilton have taken six points from their opening three fixtures following their return to the Scottish top-flight this season, with their next obligation coming against a Thistle team which is unbeaten in the SPFL Premiership so far. Indeed, they have taken four points from matches with Ross County and Dundee as they set their sights on a top-half finish.

Neil has acknowledged that he has observed a series of similarities in the way that both teams go about their business as he looks to mastermind a third straight victory.

"Thistle are a good side, with the right balance in their team," said the Hamilton player-manager. "They have good footballers and they also have pace on the flanks. When they won promotion two seasons ago they were the best team in the first division and they've added well since then.

"They also have some good youngsters, like Gary Fraser - who used to be with us - plus Steven Lawless and Stuart Bannigan. They're quite similar to us in some respects.

"If you're not on your mettle then they can hurt you, as they proved against Ross County [a 4-0 defeat by Thistle]. It will be a difficult task for us but there's no reason why we can't get a result."

After losing their opening league match, against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hamilton have suggested they have what it takes to compete at this level, with impressive wins over both St Mirren and St Johnstone.

Neil is expected to return to the Hamilton squad after missing the game side last weekend as a result of injury. He will intend to bolster the midfield but acknowledged too that he has been impressed by how his players have adjusted to life in the Premiership.

"Our movement off the ball wasn't as good on the opening day and I've told the players that we can't give away cheap goals," said Neil. "I think we were a bit apprehensive that day [at home to Inverness], we were testing the water to see how good this level was. But we quickly realised that, if we play to our potential, then there's nothing for us to be scared of.

"We did that in the second half against Inverness and the two wins since then have given us a bit of confidence. I'm now hoping we can take that belief into the game against Thistle."

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