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Osbourne is far from cosy with one clean sheet

ISAAC OSBOURNE had a couple of shots at the Partick Thistle defence yesterday.

Isaac Osbourne is frustrated by Thistle defending
Isaac Osbourne is frustrated by Thistle defending

Given the amount of goals which the Firhill side have conceded this season you could hardly blame him for having a go. The midfielder is close enough to the squad that he could be sure of hitting the target, Osbourne having played in the majority of Thistle's matches in the SPFL Premiership since joining in the summer - with the club keeping only one clean sheet. He would not stand apart from that record either but after losing 13 goals in their last four league matches, one more concession was unlikely to make a difference.

He is suffering frustration; Thistle are leaking goals and that is not good enough, is the responsibility of everyone in the team and will be confronted stiffly against Hibernian this afternoon. The Easter Road side have perhaps been the most lenient on the Thistle defenders since they scored just the one goal in a league meeting in October, although it is unlikely that Hibs will wish to seem quite so accommodating today. It will be Terry Butcher's first home match in charge of a team which is in his good graces after two matches unbeaten, but that could just as easily lose that standing by slipping from seventh place in the league table.

That will be the prevailing tune inside Easter Road but Thistle will be working to get another, more annoying one out of their heads - that the defence has been hummin' this season. That will not be made any easier by the absence of Stephen O'Donnell, Jordan McMillan and Conrad Balatoni, casualties which could prompt Thistle to reposition Osbourne at right-back against Hibs.

Any uncertainty in the role - which may be lessened after the Englishman took the role against Aberdeen last weekend - has caused the midfielder to place his trust in Alan Archibald, faith which has not wavered with his team's resolve. "I'm not a great coach or a manager; the manager knows a lot more than me," said Osbourne. "Hopefully the things we are trying on the training pitch will come off. As long as we do the right things right then hopefully it will work out for us.

"As a defensive-minded player myself, I don't think the amount of goals we've been conceding has been good enough. If people want to criticise then they can criticise, you know. But with defending, it is down to the whole team; the whole team takes part in it. We've only had one clean sheet and we have to do better."

Thistle could do to decorate their campaign with a few more during the festive fixtures especially, since Kilmarnock are just four points below in the league's relegation play-off place. Osbourne answers in the affirmative as each of Thistle's opponents are counted off up to Boxing Day: Hibs, St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, pausing only to weigh the significance of those matches. "A win [today] will give us a lift going into the run of games we have," he added.

Jordan Forster has been boosted to a place of prominence at Hibs already after Butcher intimated that he saw much of himself in the 19-year-old defender. That stamp of approval was given after Forster signed a contract extension until the summer of 2016, although it is the past few weeks which seemed to have left the greater impression on him yesterday.

"Learning from the gaffer and Maurice [Malpas] is helpful for me," he said. "They are experienced in management, played at a high level, both great players. As a defender, I'll learn a lot from them.

"They've already helped me with little things that you usually only learn from painful experience. They have helped me individually with little things, what to do, what not to do, the best way to approach different situations."

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