ROSS DOCHERTY is no longer a team-mate of Juan Alegria’s but the Partick Thistle captain still carries a reminder of his time working alongside the Colombian striker, who spent the second half of last season at Firhill without making much of an impression on the park.

Now at Falkirk, the Rangers loanee will be reunited with the Thistle squad this evening as John McGlynn’ men host the Jags in the SPFL Trust Trophy.

Docherty doesn’t know too many of tonight’s opponents but there will be one or two familiar faces at the Falkirk Stadium tonight – and he hopes to make good use of a gift he received from Alegria earlier this year.

“Paul Watson [is a friend] but he’s injured so he won’t play,” Docherty said, speaking as Thistle confirmed an extended two-year partnership with Macklin Motors Nissan Glasgow Central. “And obviously Juan Alegria – he gave me a pair of boots after I scored a goal last season.

“Juan Alegria had a Nike sponsorship and I’d been on to him to get me a pair of boots because he’s the same size as me. He said if I scored this weekend – it was the lead up to the Dunfermline game, I think we clinched the play-offs after that – and I scored. So he said ‘right, I’ll give you the pair of boots’.

“I wear them on match days. They weren’t his! They were brand new. He said before the game ‘if you score today I’ll sort you out’.”

However, the Jags skipper will not be returning the favour if the shoe is on the other foot tonight, so to speak, and Alegria finds the net.

“Of giving him a pair of boots?! Pfft,” came Docherty’s dismissive reply.

Docherty may or may not be involved this evening – Ian McCall has already announced his intention to rotate the squad for the cup tie – but the midfielder thinks the tournament will provide some of his team-mate with some well-deserved game-time.

“You know the boys are training well on the whole anyway,” he explained. “A lot of them deserve a chance and they have maybe not had a chance because the team is playing so well.

“I think on the whole the boys are happy for each other and if someone else gets a chance, they’re not too bothered about that.

“We have got a strong squad so it’s good for us, I think, because then boys are getting a chance, whereas other seasons they’re maybe relying on reserve games which aren’t at the level this game is going to be at.

“I think as long as you’re avoiding teams from your own league and the repetitiveness of playing them then you’re happy enough to play in the games.”

He added: “We’re not taking it lightly. There will be changes but we are in a position where the players that come in are very good players.

“We have got probably the strongest squad we’ve had since I’ve been at Thistle and you’re seeing that with the results we’ve had. Boys are pushing themselves on because they know there’s competition on their heels.”

Should the Jags defeat Falkirk and progress to the last 16, there is the possibility of an away day to Wales or Ireland – about as exotic a locale as Thistle fans can hope for, given that European football isn’t exactly a regular fixture at Firhill.

Many fans are clamouring for a trip across the border and having been part of an Ayr United team that were once drawn away to Wrexham, Docherty understands the appeal.

“I know all the fans are always up for trips like that,” he said. “I suppose it would be good for us to go and see elsewhere.

“I went to Wrexham a few years ago [at Ayr] and it was a good day out after. But I think the fact that you’ve got these teams makes it a wee bit different and wee bit exciting.”

When asked about what the team got up to after the match was finished, Docherty was keeping his cards close to his chest.

“Eh… a couple of casual drinks,” he replied with a grin.

Macklin Motors Nissan Glasgow Central is proud sponsor of Partick Thistle FC -