Balatoni eager to bond with Lee Mair at Partick
CONRAD Balatoni says he is keen to build an off-field friendship with new Partick team-mate Lee Mair in order to strengthen their fledgling on-pitch partnership.
Former St Mirren defender Mair quickly swapped Paisley for Firhill after being released by the Buddies last Friday and has already racked up two games alongside centre-half side-kick Balatoni.
But the 22-year-old admits he is still to get to know the ex-Aberdeen and Dundee man as a person and as a player.
He has, though, discovered that Mair has got a second job flogging Herbalife nutritional supplements but is keen to now learn the tricks of the trade that have helped the 33-year-old clock up almost 370 career appearances.
“To be honest I didn’t know too much about Lee before he signed,” said Balatoni ahead of Mair’s reunion with his old side at St Mirren Park on Saturday. “I’d seen him a couple of times for St Mirren and I thought he was good. But since he’s joined us, you can see he can play and he fits in with our system well.
“Now it’s just about forming a relationship. As centre-halves we are the last line of defence and if you have got that understanding together off the field you will have a better one on it.
“He’s been quiet in the dressing room so far, I’m surprised he’s not tried to sell us that Herbalife stuff yet. He’s older than a lot of the young boys in our dressing room so maybe he feels like he will have to be the daddy of the group, but he is fitting in well.
“Lee is a good guy and has already given me advice and I’ve listened to it, so hopefully I will improve.”
Mair’s introduction to life at Thistle has not gone as smoothly as he would have wanted.
A debut win was denied when Robbie Muirhead snatched a 1-1 draw for Kilmarnock with a last-minute equaliser on Saturday while St Johnstone claimed a 1-0 win on Tuesday night.
But those matches were testing too for Balatoni as he sought to adjust to his third defensive partner of the season already.
Jags boss Alan Archibald has tried out Gabriel Piccolo and Aaron Muirhead in the centre of his back four without success but Balatoni hopes Mair will help provide some much-needed stability as they look for a way out of the relegation play-off spot.
He said: “The gaffer has brought in Lee who has a lot of experience and thankfully it is me who has been chosen to play alongside him.
“It has been difficult with all the chopping and changing at the back but that is just part and parcel of football.
“I’ve always said good players can play with whoever they are put beside and I believe I am a good enough player to deal with that pressure.
“But hopefully now we can get a settled back four, whether that be me or anyone else, because you need to build from the back to get decent performances.”