Scottish Premiership briefing
Team news, statistics and our verdict for the weekend's action in the Scottish Premiership.
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(Current league positions in brackets)
Saturday, October 5
Georgios Samaras and Nir Biton are struggling with viruses ahead of Celtic's clash with Motherwell at Parkhead. Greek forward Samaras missed training on Friday and will be assessed. Biton did train, with manager Neil Lennon hoping he is ready for the visit of the Steelmen. Midfielder Joe Ledley remains out with a groin complaint while wide-man Derk Boerrigter had an injection in his troublesome ankle, with Lennon hoping he will return after the international break.
Motherwell's former Scotland international James McFadden faces a late fitness test. The winger went off at half-time against Ross County last weekend with a tight hamstring. Manager Stuart McCall also revealed he had one or two other unspecified injury doubts.
Last season: Motherwell 3 Celtic 1, Motherwell 2 Celtic 1, Celtic 1 Motherwell 0, Motherwell 0 Celtic 2
Last five league matches: Celtic D W W W W; Motherwell W W W D W
Top scorers: Georgios Samaras (Celtic) 6; John Sutton (Motherwell) 5
Referee: Iain Brines
Dundee United welcome back defender Gavin Gunning from his three-match suspension. The defender was banned retrospectively for aiming a kick at Celtic's Virgil van Dijk in a 1-0 defeat in August but will be back for the clash with Kilmarnock at Tannadice. Winger Gary Mackay-Steven could start after regaining full fitness from a groin injury recently.
Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston has a troubling list of injury concerns and confirmed absentees. Forward Mark Stewart is out for six weeks after breaking his jaw in training, while Jeroen Tesselaar (head) and Kyle Jacobs (swollen toe) also miss out. The on-loan Michael Gardyne is barred from playing against his parent club. Barry Nicholson (knee) is also a doubt but Chris Johnstone returned to training this week after his shoulder injury while Celtic loanee Jackson Irvine is back in the squad after missing last week's 5-2 defeat to the Hoops.
Last season: Kilmarnock 2 Dundee Utd 3, Dundee Utd 3 Kilmarnock 3, Kilmarnock 3 Dundee Utd 1
Last five league matches: Dundee Utd W L W D D; Kilmarnock L L L D L
Top scorers: Nadir Ciftci & David Goodwillie (Dundee Utd) 4; Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) 3
Referee: William Collum
Hearts manager Gary Locke has a full squad to choose from. Ryan Stevenson is pushing for more involvement after making his comeback from a knee ligament injury in the 71st minute of last weekend's goalless draw with Dundee United. However, Locke could not give him game time for the under-20s in midweek as he did not want to play the midfielder on an artificial surface.
St Mirren boss Danny Lennon will have to put his faith in defender Lee Mair once again. The winless Buddies are nine points ahead of administration-hit Hearts - fined 15 points at the start of the season - but Marc McAusland (ankle) is still out and Mair should retain his place following Monday's 1-1 draw with Aberdeen, despite being told in the summer he was free to find a new club. Saints' only other absentee is long-term injury victim David Barron (ankle), while left-back Danny Grainger returns from suspension.
Last season: Hearts 3 St Mirren 0, St Mirren 2 Hearts 0, Hearts 1 St Mirren 0, St Mirren 2 Hearts 0
Last five league matches: Hearts W L L L D; St Mirren L L L L D
Top scorers: Jamie Hamill, Jamie Walker & Callum Paterson (Hearts) 2; Steven Thompson (St Mirren) 2
Referee: Craig Thomson
Brian McLean has recovered from a head blow and is available for Ross County. The big defender came off against Motherwell at Fir Park last weekend with concussion but has trained this week. On-loan Grasshoppers striker Orhan Mustafi remains out with a broken toe while Alex Cooper has a knock.
Aberdeen forward Niall McGinn will have his fitness assessed. The Northern Ireland international is on the way back from an ankle complaint but manager Derek McInnes will have a look at the player before the trip to Dingwall. Midfielder Barry Robson is recovering from a knee injury but is not yet ready while Chris Clark (knee) and Willo Flood (hamstring) are still out.
Last season: Aberdeen 0 Ross County 1, Ross County 2 Aberdeen 1, Aberdeen 0 Ross County 0
Last five league matches: Ross County W D L W L; Aberdeen L D W W D
Top scorers: Richard Brittain (Ross County) 4; Scott Vernon (Aberdeen) 4
Referee: Crawford Allan
St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright is hopeful of welcoming back Gary McDonald for Saturday's visit of Inverness but Steven Anderson might be ruled out for eight weeks. The central defender dislocated his thumb in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Partick and was forced to undergo surgery to repair ligament damage to the digit. McDonald has trained again after shaking off the hamstring strain that kept him out of the Thistle clash, leaving leg-break victim David Robertson as the only other confirmed absentee this weekend.
Inverness will be without James Vincent after the midfielder was forced out of last week's win over Hibernian through injury. Scans have shown some damage to the affected knee. Vincent will see a specialist to see how long he is likely to be sidelined, with boss Terry Butcher otherwise boasting a fully fit squad.
Last season: St Johnstone 1 Inverness CT 0, Inverness CT 0 St Johnstone 0, St Johnstone 0 Inverness CT 0, Inverness CT 1 St Johnstone 1
Last five league matches: St Johnstone L D L L D; Inverness CT D W W L W
Top scorers: Stevie May (St Johnstone) 6; Billy McKay (Inverness CT) 9
Referee: Steven McLean
Monday, October 7
Partick expect to have goalkeeper Scott Fox back in contention. Fox missed last week's draw against St Johnstone with a foot injury but should be fit for the visit of the Edinburgh side. Stephen O'Donnell has a slight niggle but should also be fine, although Jordan McMillan remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Hibernian hope to have Alan Maybury back on duty after he missed the defeat at Inverness with a knock. Paul Cairney is not ready to come back into the first-team squad despite playing 90 minutes for the under-20s in midweek as he returns from an ankle injury. Daniel Handling (foot), Tim Clancy (groin) and Alex Harris (ankle) remain out.
Last season: No corresponding fixture
Last five league matches: Partick L W L D D; Hibernian W D W W L
Top scorers: Steven Lawless & Aaron Muirhead (Partick) 3; Liam Craig (Hibernian) 5
Referee: Kevin Clancy