Scottish Premiership briefing

  • Last Updated: December 21 2013, 15:04 GMT

Team news, statistics and our verdict for Saturday's action in the Scottish Premiership.

John Hughes' Inverness host Aberdeen
John Hughes' Inverness host Aberdeen

Saturday, December 21

Celtic (1) v Hearts (12)

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has confirmed that Swedish right-back Mikael Lustig faces four months on the sidelines after undergoing a double hip operation. Also missing from the squad will be Charlie Mulgrew (groin), Dirk Boerrigter (hamstring) and Dylan McGeouch (knock). James Forrest has trained after recovering from a hamstring complaint as did Tom Rogic (calf).

Gary Locke's Hearts squad is again stretched to the limits. The administration-hit Gorgie club - barred from signing new players - have lost striker Gary Oliver to a leg injury and he joins Ryan Stevenson (hamstring), back-up goalkeeper Mark Ridgers (knee) and midfielder Jason Holt (foot) on the sidelines. Midfielders Jamie Walker and Scott Robinson are doubts.

Last season: Celtic 4 Hearts 1, Hearts 0 Celtic 4, Celtic 1 Hearts 0

Last five league matches: Celtic D W W W W; Hearts L W D L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Kris Commons (Celtic) 13; Callum Paterson & Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) 4

Referee: Euan Norris (Scotland).

Our verdict: Celtic 4 Hearts 0

Dundee United (3) v Ross County (11)

Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara hopes to have a full squad for the clash with Ross County. United defender Gavin Gunning hopes to overcome a knee injury in time to play, while full-back Keith Watson is bidding to shake off a leg knock.

Ross County midfielder Marc Klok drops out of the squad - the Dutchman has a shin knock and joins defender Steven Saunders (hamstring) on the sidelines. However, Branislav Micic returns from a hamstring problem and County have no other injury problems.

Last season: Ross County 1 Dundee Utd 0, Dundee Utd 1 Ross County 1, Ross County 1 Dundee Utd 2, Dundee Utd 0 Ross County 0

Last five league matches: Dundee Utd D W W W W; Ross County L L D L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Stuart Armstrong & Nadir Ciftci (Dundee Utd) 7; Melvin De Leeuw & Richard Brittain (Ross County) 4

Referee: Iain Brines (Scotland).

Our verdict: Dundee United 2 Ross County 1

Hibernian (7) v St Johnstone (6)

Hibs defender Tim Clancy moved a step closer to a first-team return by playing 90 minutes for the club's Under-20s against Aberdeen as he continues to come back from a long-term groin injury. Defender James McPake (back), striker Paul Heffernan (thigh) and winger Alex Harris (ankle) are still out.

Recent signing Lee Croft and fit-again defender Steven Anderson both come into contention for Saints after proving their fitness. Steven MacLean remains on the sidelines with a knee injury and fellow striker Rory Fallon is suspended, while Liam Caddis has joined Alloa on loan.

Last season: Hibernian 1 St Johnstone 3, St Johnstone 0 Hibernian 1, Hibernian 2 St Johnstone 0

Last five league matches: Hibernian L L D D L; St Johnstone W W W L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Liam Craig (Hibernian) 6; Stevie May (St Johnstone) 12

Referee: Alan Muir (Scotland).

Our verdict: Hibernian 1 St Johnstone 1

Kilmarnock (10) v Partick (9)

Killie are without the suspended Reuben Gabriel. Also missing will be David Silva after he picked up a knock, but loan player Michael Gardyne is back in contention having been unable to feature against parent club Dundee United.

Partick will be without midfielder Isaac Osbourne for around two months with an ankle injury, while Gary Fraser is still suspended. Stephen O'Donnell could return following a hip injury but the match comes too soon for Sean Welsh (groin).

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Kilmarnock L L L W L; Partick L L L L D

Top scorers (all competitions): Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) 8; Kris Doolan (Partick) 6

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).

Our verdict: Kilmarnock 1 Partick 2

Motherwell (5) v St Mirren (8)

Keeper Gunnar Nielsen is 50-50 to return from a thigh injury for Well. With Lee Hollis hoping to resume training next week following an injection on his ankle injury, on-loan keeper Dan Twardzik is poised to stand in again. Lee Erwin (knee) remains out but Bob McHugh (knee), Zaine Francis-Angol (groin), Lee Erwin and Fraser Kerr (back/hamstring) may return.

Paul McGowan will travel with St Mirren despite admitting two cases of police assault on Monday. The former Celtic forward will be sentenced for the attacks - which took place in Airdrie back in August - next month but boss Danny Lennon has included him in the squad for the Fir Park clash. Midfield colleague Kenny McLean is fit after a knee problem but winger Gary Teale (hernia) and defender David Barron (ankle) are unavailable as they continue to battle back from injury.

Last season: Motherwell 2 St Mirren 2, St Mirren 2 Motherwell 1, Motherwell 1 St Mirren 1

Last five league matches: Motherwell W L W L W; St Mirren W W D D L

Top scorers (all competitions): John Sutton (Motherwell) 8; Steven Thompson (St Mirren) 7

Referee: William Collum (Scotland).

Our verdict: Motherwell 2 St Mirren 0

Inverness (2) v Aberdeen (4)

Inverness have no fresh injuries. Midfielder James Vincent remains out as he continues his rehabilitation following a leg fracture, while forward Curtis Allen has left the club to return to Northern Ireland because of injury problems and homesickness.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is hopeful that forward Cammy Smith will make the squad - the teenager picked up a slight strain while playing for the Under-20s. Full-back Clark Robertson remains on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Last season: Inverness 3 Aberdeen 0, Aberdeen 2 Inverness 3, Inverness 1 Aberdeen 1

Last five league matches: Inverness W W W D W; Aberdeen W L L W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Billy McKay (Inverness) 15; Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) 8

Referee: Steven McLean (Scotland).

Our verdict: Inverness 1 Aberdeen 1


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