Partick draw inspiration from Howie comeback

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The Independent Football

Partick Thistle make their 12th attempt to gain their first Premier League win of the season at Livingston today with their manager, Gerry Collins, trying to put the Jags' problems in perspective. An eye-opening performance against Rangers at Ibrox last week still ended in defeat and Collins is also likely to be without six first-teamers at Almondvale.

But Collins also knows that inspiration could be found in the diminutive frame of Willie Howie. The 21-year-old's career was put on hold two years ago when he suffered serious head injuries in a street assault involving a blunt instrument. The youngster was left critically ill and it was feared he would never play again.

But Howie has re-established himself as a leading performer in a Thistle Under-21 side which has found wins far easier to come by than their senior counterparts. So much so, Collins has now brought him back into the first-team fold for the first time since 14 August 2001.

Howie will begin on the bench but Collins has already made up his mind to bring him on at some stage. "It was a horrendous injury that kept him in hospital for a month and they thought at one time he would never play football again. But he showed tremendous determination and character to come back and I hope some of that spirit rubs off on some of the other players as well."

Liam Miller is Celtic's biggest doubt ahead of their match with Dunfermline at Parkhead. The midfielder has tight hamstrings and, having missed training yesterday it is unlikely that the manager, Martin O'Neill, will take a risk on him.

The Motherwell utility man Jason Dair is Terry Butcher's only absentee for the tough trip to Dundee. The former Dunfermline man has suffered a recurrence of the groin injury which has been troubling him for the last couple of weeks.

Rangers will be without defender Craig Moore for tomorrow's visit to Kilmarnock.

The Australian started their last game, the Champions' League tie against Manchester United, but had to be replaced by Maurice Ross with 20 minutes remaining. He had spent more than a month on the sidelines at the beginning of the season with a hamstring injury and is still feeling the effects.

The good news for the Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, is that Fernando Ricksen is back in contention. He missed the game at Old Trafford after picking up an ankle injury against Partick Thistle a few days earlier. However, Ronald de Boer is still out with a knee problem. Stevie Thomson and Bob Malcolm are also missing.

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