18-year-old James Penrice is hoping to push on next season with Partick Thistle after a successful six-month spell on loan to East Fife.
The youngster broke onto the scene at Tannadice in a 3-3 draw between the sides in May, last year.
“I can remember almost everything about the match; it was a good match to play in for my first game and setting up the goal inside five minutes was good as well.”
Despite impressing in his two appearances at the end of the 2015/16 season, Penrice found himself back with the Under-2o’s squad at the beginning of this season.
“I started the season flying, but then my form dipped. It was difficult – going from playing against Dundee United but then coming all the way back down.”
After positive discussions with Thistle boss Alan Archibald, however, it was agreed at the turn of the year to send Penrice out on loan.
“He didn’t see the point in me sitting on the bench, for the rest of the season. By getting games, by going out on loan, and learning stuff and getting 23 or 24 games under my belt which can only benefit me in the long run when I go back,” explains the left back.
“There were other clubs [interested in taking Penrice on loan] but the Assistant Manager here at Partick knew the East Fife manager well, so, that helped me decide as I knew I was going to work for a good manager; he will treat me right and show me how to play the game, especially my defensive side as that is what I need to improve on,” says Penrice, who made 22 appearances on loan with the Fifers.
Penrice feels he has learnt a lot psychologically as well during his time in Methil.
“When we came in I think we were third bottom, we went beat Livingston and I don’t think we got beat for the next 11 or 12 games,” explains Penrice. However, it was his experience against the Lions in the Scottish Cup back in January that sticks out the most for the youngster.
“I’ve never played in a game like that before: so under the cosh, but then getting a goal and basically just sitting in for 70 minutes. It’ll help me in the long run when I go back to Partick, knowing that I can deal with those situations.”
After a spate of injuries left Thistle thin on the ground near the end of the season, Under-20’s team mates such as Andrew McCarthy were drafted in for cover.
“The manager will give you a chance if someone gets injured. He’s not afraid to throw boys in; he’s shown that by throwing a lot of young boys in so hopefully I can get my chance,” says Penrice, before concluding, “I’m just focusing on going back, starting well and make the Gaffer go “look at him, he’s came back flying”, that is what I am looking for. I just want to keep developing, keep trying to push forward and play more first team games.”