PARTICK THISTLE youngster James Penrice is gutted that teammate Thomas O’Ware will be ruled out for the season with the knee injury he sustained in Saturday’s defeat to Dundee United.

The central defender limped off in the opening minutes of the game at Tannadice, and confirmed last night that his season was over.

The news comes as a massive blow for Thistle and manager Alan Archibald, with fellow new signing Shea Gordon also ruled out for another five weeks, and the Thistle boss now faces a race against time to bolster his ranks before the transfer window closes on Saturday night.

Penrice, an ever-present so far this campaign, couldn’t hide his own disappointment at the extent of O’Ware’s injury lay-off.

“It’s terrible news for us,” Penrice admitted.

“He has been great for the team on the pitch since he came in, so he’ll be missed massively for his playing ability, but also, with an injury like that, you don’t tend to be in and about the squad on a day-to-day basis.

“You have to be away doing your rehab, and we will miss his presence around the dressing room. He is a big character in there.

“As a younger player, he is great to play alongside, because he is very vocal and he talks you through the game.

“He is a great guy and I just hope that the injury isn’t as bad as we are all fearing, and he can get back to action sooner rather than later.”

Penrice himself has been pleased with his own personal performances on Thistle’s left, despite a mixed bag of results for the team as a whole in the Championship so far.

And after spending part of last season on loan at Livingston, he isn’t at all surprised by how tough the challenge is in the second tier.

“I always knew it was going to be really difficult this season,” he said.

“I had first-hand experience of it last season, and I think all of the lads were aware that it wasn’t going to be easy coming down from the Premiership. But we are more than up for the challenge.

“I am pleased by how I have been playing personally, but I know that I have to keep producing if I want to keep my place in the team.

“The gaffer has given me great confidence by putting me in for every minute of every game this season so far, and I want to repay that faith on the pitch.”

The next challenge for Thistle is a home tie against Morton on Saturday, and Penrice believes that they have to make Firhill a fortress if they are to have any chance of mounting a challenge for promotion.

“We need to make teams fear coming here,” he said.

“If we are serious about getting promoted straight back up, which we are, then we can’t be dropping too many points at our own ground.

“We have beaten Morton before here in the Betfred Cup this season, and we we will be looking for a similar performance and result this time around.”