CHRIS Erskine was at Dundee United when a team full of foreign imports with no emotional attachment to the Tannadice club got relegated from the Ladbrokes Premiership two years ago.

But he thinks the fact that he and his Partick Thistle team mates genuinely care about what happens to the Firhill outfit will help them avoid the same fate in the coming weeks.

Alan Archibald’s team dropped to the bottom of the top flight when they were beaten 4-0 by fellow strugglers Ross County in Dingwall on Tuesday night.

The Maryhill men are now behind the Highlanders on goal difference with just six games of the 2017/18 campaign remaining and their prospects look bleak.

Thistle face a difficult task moving away from the relegation zone this afternoon when they take on Steve Clarke’s on-form Kilmarnock side at home.

However, Erskine, who was given his break in football by Partick when he was playing for Kilbirnie Ladeside and working as a pipe fitter at a Glasgow shipyard, is confident the players care enough to survive.

“When I got relegated with United we had a lot of foreign boys there and most of them were only there until the end of that season,” he said.

“I’m not saying that it was any easier for them but, with Thistle this means more to me.

“They brought me into full-time football from the juniors and that changed my life. That’s why it feels different for me. I’d be devastated if I was part of anything which went wrong for this club.

“You hear it bandied about a lot that players don’t care, but of course they do. It’s their livelihood and it affects everyone in different ways.

“We all care but we need to get back to what we were doing last season as soon as possible.”

Erskine admitted that being relegated with United was, even though he hardly featured in the first team towards the end of the season, not a pleasant experience.

The 31-year-old midfielder is keen to avoid the same fate because he knows how difficult the second tier will be for them to get out of.

“I’ve seen that happen,” he said. “I didn’t play towards the end with United because I’d already signed a pre-contract to come back here.

“But I saw the effect it had on people at the club and it’s not nice. I don’t want that to happen to Thistle and the rest of the lads feel pretty much the same way.

“The Championship is a tough, tough league. There are no guarantees that Dundee United will come up this season, Rangers needed more than one go and Hibs took three attempts.”

Erskine believes Thistle, who booked a top six place for the first time on this weekend last year, should revert to their natural passing game.

“We need to get back to what we’re good at,” he said. “We were a good passing team in previous years.”