THE very mention of Falkirk’s name is enough to send a shiver up the spine of Partick Thistle midfielder Craig Slater.

The 24-year-old was fighting his way back to full fitness after an injury-hit spell at Colchester when he took the opportunity to join Dundee United on loan last season in an attempt to get back on track.

But the fresh start that he had in mind got off to a bumpy beginning as his debut ended in a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Bairns.

Having now moved back north of the border on a permanent basis with Thistle, he is looking to kickstart both his own career and the Firhill side’s season by exorcising the demons of that afternoon at The Falkirk Stadium when he lines up against Paul Hartley’s men again today.

“Thanks for reminding me about that game,” Slater laughed.

“It was the worst possible start to my time at Dundee United and it was just a terrible afternoon all round. It was one of those days when nothing went right, it was a disaster and it’s not a nice memory to look back on.

“Thankfully, my Thistle debut went a bit better, and hopefully I can put that result to bed today too by getting three points. I am confident we can do it.

“We had a bad result ourselves last weekend at Ayr, and it’s important we get that out of our systems as quickly as possible.

“We want to be challenging for the title this year, and when I look around the dressing room, I definitely believe we have the quality to do that.

“Last week was disappointing, but we have moved on from it now and we are an extra week on in terms of the team gelling and getting to know one another.

“A lot of new players have come in and a few more are likely to follow, so it is going to take time to get us up to full speed, but we definitely feel we have enough about us to get the win on Saturday.”

Slater feels that he is ready to get back to his best form after an injury-hit spell in England, and he feels that Firhill offers the perfect environment for him to showcase his talents.

“I’m feeling good and getting fitter every week,” he said.

“The main thing for me was getting 100% fit and staying fit. I need a run of games, and hopefully that can kick-start me to get back to the level I was playing at before.

“People sometimes underestimate how long it can take a player to get back to their full fitness after a few months out, but I certainly think that I’m back on track now and that’s all behind me.

“I’m really enjoying my football so far at Thistle, and I love coming in every day.”

Despite the frustrating nature of his spell in England, Slater has no regrets over leaving Kilmarnock to experience life south of the border, and he thinks it has made him a better player.

“I’ve developed better physically certainly,” he said.

“I’ll always take the ball in tough situations and hopefully I can get in among the goals as well as providing some assists too.

“I feel that I can help the team, and hopefully I can be as good a fit for Thistle as I feel they can be for me.

“I’m always hard on myself and I push myself every day, and I think that everyone else at the club has that mentality too.

“Hopefully that can set us up for a successful season.”