HARRY MILNE believes that Firhill is the best place to be as the newly-acquired Partick Thistle left-back prepares for the step up to the Championship this term.

The 25-year-old was a key part of the Cove Rangers side that has surged up the SPFL pyramid in recent years and signed a pre-contract agreement with Thistle earlier this year.

The likes of Hibernian and Aberdeen were monitoring the defender before Milne opted for the Jags and the offensive full-back believes he is at the perfect club for his current stage of development.

He harbours ambitions of one day playing in the Premiership but he knows that if Thistle can achieve the club’s stated goal for the upcoming season – improve on last term’s fourth-placed finish – then they will have a chance of reaching the top flight via the play-offs.

“I felt like it was the right step at the right moment,” he explained. “I finished my degree last year – I’ve maybe done things in the reverse order of a typical footballer.

“I felt it was the right move for me. I’ve got aspirations of playing at a higher level, the top level, and this year at Thistle we will push to get to that level, whether it be through the play-offs or whatever.

“We just want to do better than last year and keep progressing. But obviously Thistle are a massive club. They have got a great history and a good fanbase.

“I’ve played against a lot of the players here and I respect them. I knew it was a good squad I was walking into. They weren’t far away last year and I believe that we can get as close, if not better, again this year. The project as a whole was quite enticing.”

Milne’s progression at part-timers Cove mirrored the team’s own rise to the Championship and few would contend that he is not ready a crack at the second tier after an impressive few campaigns in the North East.

The left-sided defender is confident that he can continue his upward trajectory at Thistle. After all, any time the bar has been raised, Milne has had little problem in hurdling over it.

“I feel like I’ve got better each year,” he said. “I’ve taken moving up the levels in my stride, playing against better players and playing with better players.

“I think the full-time environment here, training every day, the professionalism of the club, the gaffer, the players around me – that will help take me to that next level where I can progress my game further.

“I’m absolutely buzzing to be here and I’m looking forward to the season starting.”

Milne’s pre-contract agreement to join Thistle was all but finalised relatively early on but the full-back insists his focus always remained on the task at hand: ensuring that Paul Hartley’s side got their title bid over the line.

Some players down tools when they have arranged a move to another club; others find the whole situation to be an unhelpful distraction and their form on the park suffers. Milne falls into neither category. If anything, he saved his best football for the run-in, scoring five goals and providing three assists in his final eight league appearances.

He recalled: “In a sense it was kind of weird knowing that I was leaving. Not that many folk knew about it. There were a few players that I was quite close with that knew but nothing really changed.

“I still wanted to win the league for Cove and I had the same view as the rest of the players over there. And for me personally, I knew I was going to be stepping up a level anyway regardless of whether Cove went up or not.

“So it was about pushing myself to get to the best level that I could and I think that towards the end of last season I was playing some of the best football that I‘ve played.

“If I can take that into the start of this season then I will be very happy.”