Stuart Bannigan grateful for Partick Thistle loyalty

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland
Stuart Bannigan
Stuart Bannigan says he now appreciates training and playing more after 16 months on the sidelines with injury

Midfielder Stuart Bannigan has pleaded for patience as he looks to reward Partick Thistle's loyalty with a return to his best form.

He was sidelined through injury for 16 months until this season began.

"I need to repay the faith they have shown in me because they gave me a two-year contract when they didn't need to," he said.

"It's going to take a bit of time and I need the manager and the players to just stick with me and it will come."

March 2016 against Hearts looked to be Bannigan's last game for Thistle as the 24-year-old's season was ended through injury ahead of his contract expiring.

Aberdeen and Barnsley had failed in attempts to sign him in January 2016, but a move failed to materialise last summer and a new deal was agreed at Firhill only for his injury to require knee surgery last August.

"The board didn't realise how serious it was, but I can't thank them enough," said Bannigan.

"I've played a lot of games and put my heart and soul into the club and came through the youth system, so maybe I did earn it, but I'm grateful that they did it.

"It's given me a greater appreciation for the game. You come back a different person.

Stuart Bannigan moves in to challenge Dundee's Paul McGowan
Bannigan moves in to challenge Dundee's Paul McGowan in a league game in January 2016

"When you're out for that long, you have a greater appreciation of just being out there training and playing."

Bannigan realises that there are no guarantees of a place in a Thistle midfield where options have been bolstered this summer by the arrival of Blair Spittal from Dundee United.

"I knew I would have to hit the ground running, because there's a lot of competition in midfield," he said.

"I've been out for a long time and my personality is that I really want to come back and show what I can do and try to be the best player in the team.

"It'll take time, but I can't be a passenger out there. I really need to carry my load if I can."

Bannigan has played in all seven of Thistle's fixtures this season - four League Cup wins contrasting with two Premiership defeats.

"It's been difficult," he said. "We have played the two hardest teams in the league, in terms of Hibs have just come up and have all the momentum in their home game in front of a sell-out crowd and that's a difficult place to go, and then you're playing the champions Celtic.

"But it will stand me in good stead playing those two games and trying to get up to the levels I was in previous seasons."

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