IT may not literally be a fight to the death, but for Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald, the two-legged play-off final against Livingston could certainly be classed as hunger games.

The Firhill boss has challenged his Partick Thistle players to match the ferocious appetite of David Hopkin’s Lions as the shoot-out for a place in the Premiership next season kicks-off tonight.

Thistle will travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena for the first leg of the tie, and their manager is under no illusions about how difficult a task awaits his men.

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Much has been made of the work-rate and the physicality of the Championship side, and while Archibald was quick to point out they possess quality in their ranks too, he knows that the outcome of the tie may well hinge simply on who wants it more.

“We’re fighting to stay in the league, so the same thing is there for us,” Archibald said. “We have to win the game to keep our status in the Premiership.

“They have a great work ethic, without a shadow of a doubt, but they’ve got good players as well. Sometimes it overshadows their good players because their work-rate is so good.

“You see it sometimes, and we’ve had squads like it here before, where you have a lot of good players who have been released from other clubs.

“I think their back three are all former Celtic and Rangers players, and they have that hunger and desire to go and prove themselves.

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“Right throughout their team it is littered with guys who have maybe been rejected from somewhere like a Dunfermline, and they are going now and playing at a good level, and they obviously have a chance to get to the Premiership now.

“We’ve got to match that hunger, but we’ve got to go and play as well and not get too wrapped up in the occasion.

“We know it will be frantic at times and a big crowd, but we have to make sure we play our own game as well.”

Meanwhile, Thistle’s goal hero from the win over Dundee at the weekend that earned them this shot at redemption is far from guaranteed to be starting the match this evening. Kris Doolan climbed off the bench to hit the all-important winner at Dens Park, but Archibald was keen to stress that his side are not a one-man team.

“We speak all the time and I have a good relationship with Kris,” the Thistle boss said. “Sometimes it is right to start him, sometimes it is not.

“As a manager you get pilloried either way. Because he scored at the weekend I should have started him. And if I start him, take him off when he doesn’t score, then I shouldn’t have. You can’t win. As long as he keeps on doing his job for the club I will be delighted.

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“I’m aware of the debate surrounding him. I think it puts pressure on other players because they know Kris is there. But, that is a good thing. You want that pressure.

“He can’t do everything. Some fans are aware football is not about one man. Kris cannot do it all the time either. “

Archibald is right to be wary of Livingston’s never-say-die attitude according to the man in the opposite dugout this evening, with David Hopkin drawing on his own experience as a player to set the tone for those now under his charge.

“In January there, we let Danny Mullen go to St Mirren,” he said. “Once players reach a level with me and don’t give me anymore they won’t be here and I thought Danny had ran his course with me and needed a change.

“He was a fantastic player and a fantastic kid but I think he’d been here too long and I had a chance to bring in Lee Miller and Ryan Hardie. I’m always the same, that if you have a player who won’t give you everything, then it’s time for them to move on.

“It comes from me, it’s the way I was as a player. I gave everything - training, games, and you can see that in the team.

“I think the players know that and I think they’ve taken on a bit of my mentality.”